Lancashire

Preston Bus Station: Decision due

Preston Bus Station
Image caption A report on Simon Rigby's proposal is due to be published by next week

A bid to save Preston bus station from bulldozers could be considered as early as next week, the council has said.

Energy tycoon Simon Rigby stepped forward after Preston Council voted to demolish the building because of the costs of running and refurbishing it.

A council spokesman said the council's cabinet was likely to discuss the proposal at its meeting on 21 March.

The report on the proposal by Mr Rigby should be published at the end of the week, the spokesman added.

Mr Rigby, who last month pledged to fund the station in the short-term, said his proposal was subject to commercial confidentiality but has now revealed some "common sense" elements of his scheme.

"The car park was built when cars were smaller - you wouldn't get planning permission for it now," said Mr Rigby.

He added: "It would be better to make bigger spaces for less cars."

Mr Rigby said part of the bus station area could be pedestrianised, because there were fewer buses using the station, and a section of its interior space would become a retail area for start-up businesses.

He hoped to encourage student entrepreneurs, in particular.

He said: "Preston doesn't need another Starbucks, I would rather have small start-up businesses, which are retail-based.

"In the short-term, it would be based on philanthropy but, in the medium to longer term, the businesses would have to be viable."

There would also be space for art displays.

'Iconic asset'

Mr Rigby is also supported by two other Preston businesses - structural engineers Frank Whittle Partnerships, whose projects include Preston North End's refurbished Deepdale ground, and property company and surveyor Parker and Company, whose clients include Barclays Bank and Lancashire County Council.

The council estimated refurbishing the building could cost £23m, with running costs at £300,000 a year.

Mr Rigby, who founded utilities company Spice and is now CEO of the Greengen Group, said: "We are all Preston lads, we were brought up around the bus station, we know what it means to people in Preston."

Heritage campaigners said the building was iconic and an asset to tourism.

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