Preston City Council has approved the demolition of the much-loved Preston Bus Station after councillors refused to sanction £23m refurbishment at public cost.
Cllr Peter Rankin, leader of the council, said: "Our preferred option would be to refurbish Preston Bus Station. We have spent time and effort looking at refurbishment as an option. But at up to £23m it is simply beyond what the council can afford. Although we have asked for a second opinion on these costs to be sure before any final decision is made.
"We are in the age of austerity and are facing huge cuts to our budgets and services. In this climate, we cannot even afford to fund all the repairs that are needed at the Bus Station. The building is also expensive to run – costing taxpayers £297,000 a year just to keep open.
"We do understand that many people are passionate about the Bus Station and there is no doubt that it is a striking building – so it is very much a heart and a head dilemma that we face.
"But at the end of the day we have to vote with our heads. It is cheaper and better value for money to taxpayers to demolish the building and then work with Lancashire County Council to build a new modern, smaller and fit for purpose Bus Station in its place.
"That is not to say that the bulldozers will arrive tomorrow, next week or indeed next month. We've already had some private developer interest in the building. We will talk to any serious investors with a proposition to invest in it for the future.
"However, we cannot wait forever. The deteriorating state of the building and moreover the council's finances means that we must move ahead soon."
Preston Bus Station & Car Park was designed by Building Design Partnership and built in 1969. The concrete building is an example of British brutalist architecture and is 171m long and nine storeys high.
The costs of building a new Bus Station are estimated at between £10.8m and £15.3m. Unless a private developer wishes to invest and safeguard the current Bus Station building, then the City Council will work with Lancashire County Council to develop proposals for a new Bus Station in Preston.