23 Sep 2013

Preston’s brutalist bus station grade II listed

Preston’s iconic bus station lives to fight another day as Culture Minister Ed Vaizey awards it grade II listed status, putting paid to council plans to demolish the structure to save money.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey lists Preston bus station (Getty)

It is not everyone’s cup of tea but, for now at least, it is going to remain permanently parked in Preston.

After years of uncertainty about the vast building’s future, Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey has made the “neo-Corbusian” Preston bus station a grade II listed building – effectively protecting it against demolition.

The council says the bus station is too expensive and wanted to knock it down, but Mr Vaizey has protected it, describing it as a “remarkably good example of integrated 1960s traffic planning”.

I am very happy to end the uncertainty around the future of this building. Ed Vaizey

He added: [The bus station] represents an important stage in the evolution of integrated design in England with architecture, interior design, engineering, quantity surveying, landscaping, graphic and typographic design working to a common goal…I am very happy to end the uncertainty around the future of this building and accept the advice of English Heritage and give it the extra protection from demolition or redevelopment that listing provides.”

The concrete landmark, built in 1969, has long been controversial in Preston. Along with many buildings in the so-called brutalist tradition – named after the French for “raw concrete” rather than in itself an aesthetic judgement – it splits opinion. Prince Charles is famously not a fan of the style, but world-leading architects including Richard Rogers and Rem Koolhaas have called for the bus station to be saved.

Budget bus-ting

The 171 metre-long building is still a functioning bus station for local and national buses. It was originally due to be pulled down and replaced to make way for a £700m redevelopment of the town centre, but that scheme collapsed as a result of the economic slowdown.

However, its future remained in doubt because the council said it was too expensive: it costs taxpayers £300,000 a year to run and estimates suggest it could take up to £23m to refurbish it and bring it up to modern standards.

Love it or loathe it, check out our gallery of images of the iconic Preston bus station 

Councillor Peter Rankin, leader of Preston city council, said: “Obviously it’s not the outcome we were hoping for. We’ve always said the bus station is too big, provides relatively poor facilities for bus passengers and costs Preston taxpayers over £300,000 a year to maintain.

“We will have to take some time now to consider the listing decision and the options for moving forward. In particular, we need to look at costs and the impact on budgets and how it affects Preston taxpayers. We will work closely with Lancashire County Council as transport authority to consider the next steps.”

Watch below: Channel 4 News reports on the bus station row in 2012.