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Brutal Ethics (Part 3): Commuting the consequences February 26, 2013

Posted by jennibarrett in Uncategorized.
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Following on from the last post (Brutal Ethics Part 2:  Duty or Demolition?), the third group offered their views based on a utilitarian system of ethics – the end justifies the means or the act that satisfies the most people (further explanation of this…here). Here’s the 3rd and final transcript…

 

“I’m going with keeping the bus station because a lot of people use it.  If they were to knock it down and make a smaller one, it would be hard for people who use it day in and day out for going to different locations in Preston.  There’s not one bus route is there, there’s lots of different bus routes.  And thinking about shops in the bus station too.  There’s a lot of shops like newsagents, cafes – thinking about their money that they make to live, basically.  If it was knocked down, they’d have to relocate elsewhere and it will be expensive for them to relocate and it might not be the same income that they have at the moment.

When you look this bus station, the amount of people coming in and 56,000 or however many a week – it’s a lot.  I think all the petitions they’ve had with the local people they’ve had quite a lot of people coming back and saying they want to keep the bus station.  It has communal value.  If people want to keep it and it’s still being used, then I don’t see any reason why they should demolish it.

Before I start, I’m going to say that my views are different to my group’s.  Everyone looks at consequences in different ways.  My argument is based on three things –  the local residents.  Based on the petitions themselves, out of 114,000 population of Preston, only 1,400 people have actually signed the petition, which shows that not that many people actually care about it.  Looking at commuters,  56,000 people every day go in and out of the bus station, so the location of the actual bus station is a vital part of the city centre.  1,500 buses daily go in and out so that’s a good link between London and Scotland.  The last point is businesses.  The St. John’s Centre and the Guild Centre rely on comuters going in and out.  Theres’ an internal link with the bus station so these businesses rely on commuters.  SO, my proposal is to demolish the bus station but build a new bus station, a smaller one.  Basically, it costs to much to refurb the existing bus station, meaning that tax would go up 24% in Preston.  The new bus station would be a bus station with modern facilities, good standards.  IT basically would stand out in the north west to Manchester and Liverpool.  They’re modern cities.  We need to compete with these cities.  SO, my main argument is to help people to use bsuses.  When people see that it’s a modern facility they’ll want to use buses and come into the city centre,

They don’t want modern.  It’s been voted by the Preston people as the most popular building.  The designer, the materials used… they knew this was going to happen, that they’d want to knock it down.  I think they’ve got something against the building.  And the guy knew that in the future because of the design, he’s used materials that are built to last.  Pirelli designed the floor.  The façade, the tilings, they’re the same people who did the tiling on Harrods.  So that’s a big statement.

 

Source:  William Routledge

 

What you’re saying is a lot of people care, but out of 114,000 people, only 1,400 have signed the petition.  ON facts, that doesn’t show that many people actually care.

But if you’re going to think about the consequences, and you’re talking about local businesses doing better, then if you think about the time it takes to knock it down and relocate – and it’s probably going to have higher rates because it’s a new modern building, then their rents are going to go up.  In the meantime, they’re going to have nowhere to trade, so what’s going to happen to them?  What are the consequences for those businesses that you want to protect and preserve and help while all this work is going on?  What happens to them?

You’re looking at it from a short term point of view.

But if the businesses have gone under and they’re not their to trade, then there’s no long term.

But you’ve got to look at the business.  If you can say that you can protect the future of the brand.

Can you guarantee that?

Obviously, the bus station’s going to have to work with the businesses internally.

Does that make financial sense?

I think it does.  It protects the Guild Centre as well as the St. John’s Centre.

You said the number of people that signed the petition, do you not think those figures are reflected by the fact that the petition is not transparent.  We should have a leaflet through our doors as part of the community consultation which says ‘are you for or against the demolition of the bus station

You could argue that no-one has voted to knock it down. 

If you’re really bothered about something, you go out and you seek to make a change. 

How many of the 114,000 people actually know that it’s going to be demolished, though?

That’s why they’re not bothered.  If they were, they’d look into it, they’d look into  the community ,, the city centre.  They’d look into theings,.  The facts don’t reflect what’s there.

But someone form an architectural background had to ask this morning why its architecturally valuable and if we have to ask that, then Joe Bloggs who has never thought about architecture in his life they haven’t been informed and it hasn’t been explained to them why its’ architecturalyy valuable then you can’t expect them to want to keep it.

I don’t think that’s true.  All the information to date, hardly any of them talked about the architectural qualities really so far, which is quite a good thing because it’s still been voted the favourite so there’s a lot of facts and figures and arguments for saving it regardless of whether you like it or don’t like it.

This was actually the second most famous building that he did, the architect.

That’s internationally, as well.

He’s got backing from the RIBA president.  RIBA want to spot list it.

It means that they list it temporarily while they investigate it.  It means that it will prevent any demolition basically.

Because this has been going on for 10 years, saying they want to knock it down – I think people have got used to the fact that they’re just going to come around every year and say, let’s knock it down.  If this never happened before and in December, they’d said knock it down, I think there would have been more of a reaction from people.  It’s been going on for such a long time.

If it’s been going on for so long, then more people should know about it.

People are saying we don’t think it’s going to happen so why get involved.

It ‘s a positive for Preston.  Look at the attention it’s getting from all over the UK.

When you demolish it, will you have any attention?

Yeah, this is iconic

I think it should be retained and I think the Council should listen to the RIBA who are suggesting to carry out a competition to redesign and adapt the current building to the needs of the town and they said they will support that somehow so we might end up with lower figures – it depends on the design and what sort of design architect’s will propose.  But why do believe in these costs?

They’re the figures we’ve been given.  We can’t go to the bus station and get a pen and paper out and start putting a list of costings together.  They’ve obviously paid someone to do it and we have to go along with someone’s job.   They’ve given us a figure to go off, now.  We either go off that or we don’t.

Yes, those figures have been given but until you know what that money’s actually getting for you and what that’s costing – is it a scheme to replace the bus station or is it a bus station with the same – so until you know what you’re getting and you know they can guarantee that money’s available so you’re not left with a pile of rubble.

Has there been an options appraisal where they look at the 3 scenarios – demolish, refurbish, retain?  And looked at the comparative costs?  Have we got that information?

The information I’ve obtained is that for approximately £10 million, they can build a new bus station in the same plot with 60 bus bays instead of the 80 that they have right now and they’ll have 350 car parking spaces.

What have they got now?

They’ve got 1,100.  But these 350 car parking spaces are based on what gets used right now.  That’s what they’ve based it on.  It’s not that they’ve just brought it down to 350.  They’re going off what gets used on a daily basis.

Do you not feel that’s because in Preston town centre, there’s about 8 car parking places that you can go to within half a mile?  Do you not think it would be a better idea to keep the bus station which we’re quite proud of in Preston and get rid of one of the little rubbish ones like on top of the market? It’s not exactly far to get from the market to the bus station and it’s drawing more attention to there because that’s used by  about 150 people every day.

I think we need to compete with other cities in the north west.  That’s why I think this approach of going towards a new modern bus station will help bring people into Preston.  If someone was to come into Preston Bus Station, they wouldn’t want to come back, right now.  And that’s just the way it is.

Don’t send them inside.  Make them stand outside where it’s elegant looking!

If people from Manchester see that we have a modern facility, they’ll want to come.

Manchester doesn’t have a good bus station.  Chorlton Street bus station is a lot worse than Preston bus station.

That’s what I mean, though.  It’ll bring people towards us.

But if we go back to the architectural point, we have an iconic piece of architecture there.  You’ve got some figures which are for putting a new, smaller bus station, which is not going to be costed as the highest quality building.  If you want to get something, whether you like it or not, that’s  perceived as high quality and as iconic, that’s going to have as much impact as that, then you’re going to have to spend the money.

If the investment comes in for this new proposal…

But that proposal is never going to match the quality of the bus station.

But if this investment comes in, it will bring other investments within the city centre as well.  People start seeing that as an economic factor.  Look, people are putting money into Preston.

They can do that without knocking it down.

It’ll start a sense of investment in the city centre.  Right now, no-one wants to invest because the Tithebarn project has been scrapped.  No-one wants to invest right now.

But what’s the difference between investing £10million in a new bus station and investing £10million in making this even better?

Figures show that it’s going to cost them £23million to refurb the current building.  If you can build a new bus station for £10million, you’re saving £18million on paper.

How much to demolish it?

£28million.

Your figures don’t stack up and I think £10million will just get you a bog standard bus station.  It won’t be iconic and it’ll be the same as all the other rubbish ones around Preston.  If you want something iconic, which you’re talking about, you’re going to have to spend more than £10million.

Artist's impression new bus station

Image of replacement bus station proposal

Source:  Preston Bus Station Replacement Facility:  Options Report (Prepared by Jacobs, June 2012)

 

5 minutes ago, with regard to the car parking, you said that we only need 300 odd spaces because that’s all that’s being used.  But there’s loads of empty shops.  You say  you want to encourage people but you’re reducing the amount of parking.  You need those extra spaces to expand.  You wouldn’t build the Trafford Centre and put 4 car parking spaces in would you?  You wouldn’t reduce the car parking.

There’s spaces in and around Preston.  This bus station, the 350 spaces is based on 10 million.  Obviously, the costing will go up if they want more spaces.

That’s undermining your scheme.

Why not have people coming in to use the empty retail units instead of knocking it down?  That would improve the area around it.

I think there should be more collaboration with the people of Preston.  Now, the Council are going off and doing what they want to do and deciding.  If they had that relationship with the people of Preston, they’d probably find a solution that would suit both parties.  At the moment, it’s just the Council.  And we’re not knocking it down, we’re keeping it.

Apart from me!

So where do you stand?  Need I ask?  I can see from the body language.  Are there any other questions?

Yeah, you said earlier that you want Preston to compete with Manchester and Liverpool.  How is it going to do that in terms of the local economy?  When you look at these other cities, they’re much larger in area, in their markets, so how can you compare Preston to a city like that?  We’ve only got one university here, for example.  Everywhere else has two.  We can’t compete with cities like that.  Even from an architectural point of view, will people actually come to Preston to look at the bus station?  I’m from London and I never saw the bus station until I actually went walkabouts.  All I got told about Preston was the churches.  How will we compete with major cities like that?

Every city started from scratch.  We might be 10 or 15 years behind Manchester, Liverpool, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t.  We’re not the biggest of towns but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a statement within the north west.  That’s the point that I’m trying to make.

It’s not just the 10 or 15 years, when you compare Preston with London, it’s not comparable.

The only way to start this movement upwards is to start now.  Improve it now.  That’s what I’m trying to say.

But is getting rid of Preston’s heritage saying the right thing about Preston.  That’s a step backwards.

That’s why I think the bus station makes Preston unique.

I don’t think it’s as densely populated around the area to make an immediate impact.  If you did develop the area, that’s why it’s better in Manchester and Liverpool because there’s more people around it.   You’re going to have to start developing slowly and build it up before it gets to the other scale that he’s talking about.

I don’t think breaking it down is going to make any difference.  In the late 19th century, when Preston was more like a sort of a centre for trade.  Preston was way more important than Manchester because more people who came to Preston and came through the docks and the train station.  It was a major interchange.  So, I think it should have developed before other cities.  It had loads of potential but you can’t just say it didn’t develop because of the bus station.

It’s a starting point though.  There’s other areas.  If you start investing in one area, people will see that there’s investment going on.  Right now, if you look at Friargate, they don’t want ot invest because the shops are down but if they see someone investing in one building, they’ll want ot invest in another one and there’s this link between ….Businesses run off what other businesses are doing.  That’s why I think, personally, that you have to start somewhere and Preston is known for its travel and links between cities.  For us to start anywhere, its vital that we start with travel.

I can’t agree with that.  Investment does attract other investment but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you wipe everything out, the history.  You’re wiping out stuff that has got some value to it, whether you think it’s architecturally valuable or financially valuable or historically valuable to the people around it who have an emotional connection to it.  So, there’s a point to invest and to try and attract investment but I don’t think that demolition approach is automatically the right one.

I think what we’ve got at the moment, is a beautiful Victorian house with a horrible 70’s kitchen in it.  To rip that kitchen out and fit a nice, new modern one, obviously, it will have more value.

I think that maybe the people that aren’t from Preston, maybe they don’t understand what’s happened to Preston in time.  You’ve got people who live a few minutes walk from the main street.  Instead of using those shops, they’re jumping on the train to go to Manchester and as a result, half the shops on the main high street have closed down now.  I think that the whole discussion about the bus station is to try and get people who live around this area up to Blackpool, to deter those people from going to Manchester and Liverpool.

That’s what the Tithebarn project was about, really.

Raise your hand if you’re not from Preston.  Keep your hand up if you think we should keep the bus station.  Interesting, so in our small sample, for non-Prestonians, it is still important.  It’ll be interesting to gauge that across Preston.  My personal argument would be that it’s a bus station, although the building itself is for the people of Preston, the function is not.  The function’s actually national.  I’m not from Preston.  I’m from Manchester but I have strong memories of Preston and the bus station when we would stop off on the way to Blackpool and so it’s quite relevant to the memories of people across the country and we’re not necessarily picking up those views.  So it seems to be coming down to a question of memory, value and money that’s underpinning this discussion and we’re not going to be able to solve it here.  It’s going to run and run.  So let’s take a vote – who thinks we should keep the bus station?”

 

Students voted 66% against the demolition of the bus stationAll 3 ethical standpoints resulted in the decision to retain Preston Bus Station.

Please note that the comments here are based on an unedited record of student presentation. I have not verified the accuracy of their facts and figures.

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