Dear Mr. Petrie ------------------ Thank you for your interest and prompt response.
In general we obviously agree and want to see the town back to its former self. You do raise an interesting and popularly held point of view about Greyfriars however which I think arises to a great extent from the current run down state of the interior and its lack of modern facilities.
All works of an artistic origin should impact differently on every person and consensus is certainly not a foregone conclusion. So it is bound to be with architecture also, whether new or traditional.
There are many architects (and others like myself) who consider that Greyfriars Bus Station is one of very few landmark modern buildings in Northampton. Built in the style of the internationally famed Scottish architect James Stirling (1926-1992), Greyfriars represents a powerful, post-modern statement and it is normal and good that it can generate strong feelings. The least known view of the north side elevation from the Upper Mounts however shows the building at its best and should be more exposed.
I think that most people judge the bus station from the inside and rarely see it from its outside elevation, and the dilapidated and ergonomically unsound state that has evolved is indeed pathetic.
I firmly believe that, as a measure for the next five years or so, until such time as the bus station might become part of a transportation hub in conjunction with the development of the railway station, immediate steps should be taken to completely refurbish the interior and convert it into the metropolitan passenger interchange that it has the potential to be and that we can be proud of. Arrival is so vital to the overall impression of the town one is visiting, whether for the first time or commuting on a regular basis, and this medium-term step must be seen as a priority.
If and when plans for an extended and updated Grosvenor Centre do eventually materialise it may well be a consideration, if demolition could be avoided, to use the bus station as a sporting venue for spectator racquet sports for example ? especially with the ample parking so close at hand.
In addition the office space above could be provided with a prestige entrance and piazza facing north instead of the original entrance that was never even close to adequate. This could include an impressive set-down front entrance drive, that actually works and the offices would attract interest from national companies in search of centrally located headquarters as well as bringing to life the offices already existing along the Upper Mounts. The Church of The Holy Sepulchre would become an integral part of the scheme and add the important element of heritage instead of remaining sidelined, as it has been for so long.
What we really need right now is a united voice for change and an initiative to move forward now rather than in the future with locally conceived ideas and projects that attract the most popular support and will distinguish Northampton as a destination demanding of a visit.
- John Sheinman