'It will be an iconic building': £15m Hanley bus station nears completion (video)
PASSENGERS will be able to catch buses at the £15 million city centre bus station from April – months behind schedule.
Construction of the long-awaited Hanley Bus Station is set to be completed within the next two weeks before the finishing touches are added ahead of its official opening.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council had originally hoped to cut the ribbon on the iconic station last autumn before announcing the opening had been delayed until January.
Highways bosses say the project was held up by the discovery of mine shafts on the site, along with adverse weather conditions hindering workmen.
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Pete Price, the city council's assistant director for technical services, said: "Any big project hits problems.
"We have had some construction issues from the early ground conditions which is common in Stoke-on-Trent.
"However, we are also on target for the station to be built on budget."
The council has also defended its decision for the new facility to have 22 bays – nine fewer than the existing station – and for additional spaces to be set up on Hinde Street.
Mr Price said shifting the 'lay-over' bays away from the new station would have no impact on the service passengers receive.
He added: "We did not want to use prime city centre land that could be used for development to be taken up by these bays as we saw with the previous station.
"The public has picked up on the fact the new station is smaller but the service they receive will not be affected."
The new station will include a Spar convenience store which will incorporate a GT News and a cafe.
Elsewhere the toilet facilities will boast a large changing area for disabled users.
Mr Price added: "It is a grand design. We found that a lot of new bus stations were quite utilitarian and looked a little like a tin shed.
"What we have here is a new iconic building for the city centre.
"It really is an architectural masterpiece."
The unusual curved design of the station was the vision of the international award-winning architect Grimshaw, designers of the Eden Project in Cornwall and the International Terminal at London Waterloo station.
Visitors will also notice Canadian cedar wood running across the ceiling of the station.
Jerry Daly, pictured below, project manager with VINCI Construction UK, the firm building the station, said: "We are very pleased with it and we always said it would be an iconic building."
A unit to house office staff and bus drivers from First has been completed with the firm signing a 10-year lease.
The transport hub – which is expected to operate from 6am until midnight – will be decked out with CCTV and will also benefit from a permanent council staff presence to tackle the anti-social behaviour associated with the previous station.
Up to 120 buses are expected to travel through the station every hour.
Pensioner Helen Greenhough, aged 90, of Leek Road, Stoke, who successfully fought a campaign to maintain a bus service in her area, said: "The old bus station always felt like a tunnel and was very un-welcoming.
"The toilets were even closed because they were abused.
"The new station sounds like it will be a lot better and a good addition to Hanley."