Trendy bus station damned as 'a costly experiment'

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The Independent Online

A major new building praised by the architectural establishment for its innovative design has been condemned by the man who commissioned it.

A major new building praised by the architectural establishment for its innovative design has been condemned by the man who commissioned it.

Walsall's showpiece bus station is a costly "architectural experiment" that has shortchanged local people, according to Richard Worrall, chairman of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority (WMPTA).

Mr Worrall has written to the Independent on Sunday to complain that, despite its £7.2m price tag, the building remains unsafe and may even let the rain in when the winter storms start.

It is eight months late in opening, he says, and might not last the 30 years the architects, London-based Allford Hall Monaghan & Morris, promised.

Transport officials are still investigating a series of structural difficulties which saw the hefty £6.5m budget overrun by another £1.5m.

The delays were caused as the builders struggled to eradicate pools of water collecting on the roof.

Mr Worrall remains a fan of the station, describing it as a brave departure from the dreary "stereotypes" on offer in most towns. The WMPTA, which he chairs, was responsible for commissioning it.

He writes: "For architecture to be really successful, it needs to translate into something which doesn't just look good, but offers value for money, ease of construction and a high level of passenger amenity.

"If Walsall bus station does not achieve this, then local people could be forgiven for concluding they had been on the wrong end of a narcissistic architectural experiment conducted at their expense."

Peter Morris, a partner with Allford Hall Monaghan & Morris said the building had been hit by teething troubles rather than major problems. "It's a complicated construction project."

Richard Worall acknowledged that the bus station had been well received by the Black Country community but said: "What we don't like is paying a lot of money for work we shouldn't have needed. If it had been done right in the first place, we wouldn't have had to."

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