Preston bus station review – a glorious reprieve

Earmarked for demolition just six years ago, the brutalist gem that is Ove Arup’s Preston bus station has been sympathetically renovated, right down to the route numbers

How could there have been any doubt? Why was it even considered that the majestic concrete battleship that is Preston bus station might be demolished? Yet it was, a few years back, to make way for a proposed shopping centre of uncertain viability. Central government, in the face of prolonged and well-made arguments for its listing, hedged and prevaricated until deciding in 2013 that, yes, it was worthy of protection.

Now, as its renovation is completed, it’s plain that the bus station deserves to stand alongside the other robust civic masonry that Preston, like many industrial cities, boasts: the neo-Greek Harris Museum and Art Gallery; the Edwardian baroque Sessions House. It’s also again clear (see, too, the Southbank Centre in London) that the listing of postwar architecture is the last, best defence of public space that the tattered planning system can provide.

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