Facelift to rid ‘no go’ car park of twilight fear factor

The bus station car park, Preston

The bus station car park, Preston

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For decades it has been a no-go area for thousands of drivers - a damp, dismal and dimly-lit place to leave your vehicle.

Even Lancashire County Council leader Jennifer Mein admits she won’t go near the place alone at night - and her authority owns it.

But soon the colossal car park above Preston Bus Station could be the multi-storey of choice for motorists visiting the city centre.

Work is now underway to completely refurbish the monument to Brutalist architecture - or “concrete lasagne” as one critic called it. When it is completed, at the end of next year, it should be lighter, brighter, roomier and, above all, safer to use.

“At the moment, as a female, coming back late at night to collect your car parked up there, it’s not pleasant,” said Coun Mein.

“It’s slightly unnerving. But when it’s finished it will be more secure and I think anyone would feel happy to use it because of the new lighting and CCTV. It will be much more pleasant, airy and safe. We want it to be the go-to place in Preston for parking.”

The reputation of the 47-year-old multi-storey, especially at night, has prompted many motorists to steer clear.

Damp, smelly stairwells, dark decks and tight ramps and bays have made it one of the least attractive places to park a car in the city centre. But all that should disappear over the next 12 months with a programme of improvements designed to bring it back to life.

Safety and security are the key, say LCC, with much brighter lighting, coupled with a lighter paint scheme and a sophisticated CCTV network - with no blind spots - to clamp down on crime and anti-social behaviour.

Facial recognition cameras will be in all the stairwells to capture images of everyone using the car park. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras will clock the registration of every vehicle coming in and out. All three of the pedestrian underpasses to the bus station are to be shut down. New lifts will be installed and parking bays will be made slightly larger - reducing capacity from 1,100 to 936.

“By the time it’s finished it should be a totally different place to visit and one, we hope, motorists will feel confident to use,” added Coun Mein.