Preston bus station, an icon of British brutalist architecture, has been saved from demolition after the government listed it as a building of historical and architectural significance.
The news of its Grade II listed status delighted campaigners but left the city council lamenting a maintenance bill of £300,000 a year.
Preston council had planned to pull down the 1969 airport-style building in favour of a smaller facility, saying it needed between £17m and £23m repair work.
However, Ed Vaizey, culture minister, agreed with a campaign backed by English Heritage, Lord Rogers, the Twentieth Century Society and many other architects, and agreed to list it, despite two government rejections in the past.
The decision comes as two other concrete brutalist buildings, Birmingham City library and the Yorkshire Post headquarters in Leeds, are threatened with destruction. Mr Vaizey said Preston 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”.
He said original features such as floor finishes, signage and barriers survived.
The giant edifice features four layers of curved, sweeping concrete on the car park above and a huge light atrium. But half its gates are not used, the parking spaces are narrow and it is connected to the city centre only by subways.
Peter Rankin, leader of Preston council, said: “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 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.”