Derby's bus passengers are being assured
by the city council that a new interim station
will be ready by the New Year.
It will be along The Morledge and Corporation
Street with temporary offices on Osnabruck
Square. Demolition work on the existing station,
the closure of which caused fierce controversy,
will begin in January 2005.
City council officers are confident services will
not be disrupted. About 15,000 people signed a
petition opposing plans to replace the existing
Art Deco station. Transport Policy Officer, Pete
Price, said he expected the change over to go
Before its too late, I ask the question:
Why cannot the Roundhouse become the base for the
new bus station? This would contribute towards an
integrated rail and bus service, which is said to
be one of the Government's priorities.
Perhaps the city council could even get a grant
or aid. It would also free up the old bus station
area, which could become a landscaped extension
to the River Gardens, making it a much friendly
place to visit.
We could have a restaurant overlooking the river
and a dropping off point for the buses. This, I
think, would solve a number of problems at once.
It would use the Roundhouse area for something
useful, solve the problem of the old bus station
and make the River Gardens much more accessible
to the public. Barry Whittingham
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to demolish Derby Bus Station are to go ahead, despite
hopes of a reprieve through the new political alliance.
The 1930s landmark is set to disappear to make way for
the £83m Riverlights development, which will include a
new bus station. In recent election manifestos, both the
Liberal Democrats and Conservatives backed opponents of
the scheme. Last year, the Conservatives told voters that
they would "retain the Art Deco bus station"
and the Liberal Democrats said that they wanted "to
keep the best of the current bus station".
So when the new alliance of Lib Dems, Tories and one
Independent came to power, protesters hoped this would
mean a reprieve for the station. But it has now been
revealed that the new council will not block Riverlights,
the latest plans for which are expected to be presented
to the council in three weeks. Liberal Democrat Maurice
Burgess, new council leader, said, "The developers
have planning permission to demolish the bus station.
We've no powers to stop them."
Conservative Philip Hickson, now deputy leader of the
council, said in 2001 that the future of the bus station
"has degenerated into a shambles". But Mr
Hickson said, "The current bus station is no longer
fit for the purpose. It doesn't cater for the safety and
security of passengers - particularly lone women at
night. Also there is poor access for disabled people.
People waiting for a bus want to be dry and warm and have
good lighting and security."
The Riverlights project has been plagued with controversy
and delays since the council signed an exclusive deal
with Nottingham-based developer MetroHolst in 1996. The
latest scheme proposes a major development on the site,
between the Morledge and the River Derwent, which would
include the new bus station, 150 flats, an office block
and a leisure complex with bars, restaurants, a nightclub
and a casino. In 2002, the council established a
cross-party working group to negotiate changes with the
Richard Kemp, a director of MetroHolst, said, "We
will submit a presentation to the cross-party working
group on June 13 and then put in a planning application.
The new application relates to other parts of the site,
because we received permission to demolish the existing
bus station in 1997. It's impossible to retain the
existing bus station because that land forms part of the
new concourse." After the new planning application
is lodged, the council will embark on a major public
The controversial redevelopment of Derby bus
station has been given Government approval. The original
idea was for a joint shopping centre and bus station, but
developers found there was no demand for more shops in
the area. A new scheme was then drawn up based around a
multiplex cinema and hotel, but this idea was scrapped in
2002 when the UCI cinema chain pulled out. The latest
plan features bars, nightclubs, restaurants and a casino,
as well as 150 apartments and 150,000 sq ft of office
The centrepiece of the development will be a 29-bay
airport-style bus and coach terminal to replace the
existing Art Deco bus station, which has been fiercely
defended by campaigners. Michael Foote, director of
corporate services at the city council, said, "The
development is nothing like what we initially envisaged,
because commercial factors have driven away two detailed
proposals, the retail base and the cinema. It's a very
difficult site to develop because of the highways,
parking requirements and the tying in of Westfield's
development of the Eagle Centre."
discovered that the redevelopment of the bus station
cannot proceed due to a "wrangle" over a small
piece of land. Although city council officers were aware
of the piece of land, no-one in the ruling Lib Dem/Tory
cabinet, or the previous Labour administration, had
apparently been informed of its existence. Developer
MetroHolst has been told it cannot get funding until it
has resolved talks with a third party landowner and needs
the land in order to alter the road layout around the
Cockpit car park.
Council leader Maurice Burgess at first claimed that the
council had known about the land issue for some years,
but later admitted, "It took me by surprise. It had
not occurred to me how material this land would be.
There's a wrangle at the moment." Labour group
leader Chris Williamson, who was council leader for a
year before Mr Burgess took over in 2003 said, "A
bit of a bombshell has been dropped. It's the first I
have ever heard of it. I've never been made aware that a
third party landowner was involved. The whole project has
now been put in jeopardy."
An estimate to build a 30s art deco bus
station like ours at the Morledge is in the order of
£34m at today's costs. To beautify and make the one we
have function to 21st-century requirements would cost as
little as £1.5m. Derby bus station, as we all can see,
was built by skilled craftsmen, masters in the art of
creating a building of enormous durability and presence,
to serve the public for generations, not just decades;
easy of access for arrivals and departures. It is just
crying out for maintenance!
How much would a glass and steel replacement cost? Some
estimate £40m, others say it is impossible to be
accurate, as we all know costs can soar like a barrage
balloon if an economic slump hits us. An international
financial crisis would have worse effects than hurricane
Katrina. We would regret being profligate, by destroying
an acknowledged heritage for descendants. So, let's be
prudent, refurbish the bus station to such a high
standard that it is a three-star attraction.
Make it an example of how an action group campaigned for
10 years and persuaded our local council to hold on to
what's good - and give Metro Holst their marching orders!
Cancel all contracts and refuse to pay indemnities, and
demand of any future consortium of foreign or UK
companies that they live for 30 years in Derby before
insisting they know what Derby citizens' needs are. They
would have to listen to the public.
We love our old pubs, churches, guildhalls and civic
buildings as icons, talismans of continuity and identity,
from one generation to the next. Save our Morledge and
stop any plans that will desecrate our lovely River
Derwent. Be warned, Riverlights will become River Blights
when safety nets are put up to help prevent drunks from
being swept along into the Derwent. Remember, 14,000
citizens signed against development. Very many more
thousands are with us all the way. G Broady
Now it all becomes clear exactly to what the
'Make Poverty History' banner that was hanging outside
the Council House was referring. It was not so much the
Third World, rather, it was the occupants of the said
building, making their own poverty history by closing
down the bus station for as long as possible. Council
leader, Chris Williamson remarks that "Even if we
wanted to reopen the bus station we couldn't.
Responsibility is with Metro- Holst."
Mr Williamson also refers to the "prohibitive"
costs of reconnecting utilities and handling asbestos
discovered on the site. First of all, it is amazing that
at such a late stage in proceedings and after so many
years they had not tracked down any records referring to
the asbestos without having to resort to more invasive
means of discovery. Secondly, has the council not
considered the even more prohibitive costs, in the long
term, of maintaining the overloaded highways immediately
surrounding Riverlights, should it ever be built?
In that context, the comparatively minor costs of
reconnection should be regarded as an investment rather
than a burden and, in any case, it is a mess of
Metro-Holst's making on what now appears to be property
for which they are responsible as things stand, so
natural justice should dictate that they bear the costs
of clearing it up. Christopher Bentley