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Bus station hopes are dashed
HOPES that the city council could buy Salisbury bus station and either reopen it or put it to other community uses have been dashed.
Consultants have concluded that neither option make financial sense.
Bus operator Salisbury Reds, part of the Go-Ahead Group, has been told it is now free to sell the site, and is in confidential talks with a potential buyer.
To assess demand, the consultants interviewed people in bus queues and shoppers as well as Wiltshire and city councillors and traffic technicians, and surveyed business groups. They also looked at what happens in other towns.
They concluded that the station’s closure was “not a significant issue” for most people. There was “no overall support” for keeping it open, while acquiring and renovating it could cost the city £2m.
As a bus station serving multiple operators, it could need an annual subsidy of up to £150,000, while in a worst-case scenario, converting it to another use such as an indoor market could lose the council £225,000 a year.
Among regular bus users, more than three-quarters said the bus station’s closure had made no difference to their journeys and only a few bemoaned the loss of a focal point for information and advice.
Despite complaints about congested pavements around the city’s new bus stops, the consultants said CCTV showed very little impact on traffic congestion.
They concluded: “The closure will have very little impact on future bus use.”
People were also asked what they would like to see the site used for instead, with leisure and housing proving to be the top choices.
The business survey showed that with the Central Car Park redevelopment on the way there was no real demand for more shops, although some would have liked an indoor market.
Cllr Matthew Dean won £10,000 in government funding for the study to be carried out, saying at the time that the council owed it to the people of Salisbury to “give it a go”.
On Monday he said he was a little disappointed with the result, and surprised at the business community’s attitude, but added: “We can genuinely say we have looked at every option.
“I personally think a bus station is a useful piece of infrastructure, but we needed to make a decision based on facts, not emotion. I am content with the outcome.”
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