Opposition leaders at the Guildhall have said the demolition of the Greyfriars bus station should be put on hold amid fears taxpayers could be left to pick up the bill.
The 37-year-old station will close on March 2 next year and be replaced by the new North Gate bus station in Sheep Street.
The subsequent demolition of Greyfriars will cost £4 million and take 18 months.
But in papers published by the council this week, Guildhall finance chiefs have warned that if the station is knocked down and nobody comes forward to redevelop the site, the council would be left with the £4 million bill, leading to ‘serious and unplanned consequences’ for the authority’s budget.
Opposition councillor, Brendan Glynane (Lib Dem, Delapre & Briar Hill) said: “I think they should delay the demolition until they know for sure Legal & General wants to redevelop the site. They’re trying to push it all through quickly, but if things don’t work out as planned, we could end up with a hole that taxpayers will have paid £4 million for.”
The council’s cabinet will meet next week to discuss the funding of the demolition.
It is planned to spend £500,000 on the project in the current financial year then £3.5 million in the following 12 months. Despite the high cost, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Tim Hadland (Con, Old Duston) said he was confident the demolition should go ahead as planned.
He said: “I think we need to get on with it. We need to demonstrate that the town is moving forward and this is another step in the right direction.”
He also said the risk of taxpayers having to pick up the demolition bill was low.
Greyfriars opened in April 1976 at a cost of £7.2 million.
By May 1976 the bus station was already labelled a ‘white elephant’.
In August 1976, the station was described as ‘the worst mistake in Northampton’s history’.
In 1997, Barclaycard moved out of offices above the station.
In 2005, Grand Designs presenter, Kevin McCloud called the station ‘the mouth of hell’.
In 2007, the car park above the station closed because chemicals were leaking on to cars. Sewage was also leaking through the roof.
In 2009 a woman died after being hit by a bus in the station. A man died in similar circumstances in 2004.