THIS is Blackburn’s new £5million glass-fronted bus station which will welcome passengers from autumn 2015.

The covered complex, which will take 18 months to construct, will be sited on part of the town centre’s old market site following a decade of searching for the necessary cash and best location, the Lancashire Telegraph can reveal.

Council bosses said the enclosed, airy, warm and secure Ainsworth Street building will include a cafe and be equipped with the technology for London Transport Oyster-style cards to speed passenger boarding and real time information screens.

The bus station has been designed by Capita Symonds, the firm behind major projects nationwide including the £188 million Library of Birmingham, the BBC’s Salford Quays Media City, and the extension to the British Library.

Design and project manager Richard Saint has incorporated the best features of similar complexes around the UK and Europe while trying to keep the character of nearby retail developments.

The hi-tech terminal using the latest natural ventilation techniques will be just up the road from the existing windswept interchange by the railway station and will offer state-of-the-art passenger comfort facilities.

The first stage of the long-awaited redevelopment of the former Blackburn market site, the bus station will have a single central concourse with direct access to 14 bus boarding and alighting bays.

There will be a staffed travel information office, cafe, cash machines and public toilets with a disabled access WC and baby change facilities.

It will be closely linked to the new £8 million indoor market and Mall shopping centre while a new smaller bus interchange will be built next to the railway station as part of the town’s £30 million Cathedral Quarter development, with most main services stopping at both places.

The new plan, scheduled to start in April next year and due to take 18 months to complete, is one of the key parts of unlocking the further redevelopment of the town centre.

The bus station plans will go on show for two weeks from today on a special stall next to the visitor centre.

Money for the work on both the new station and bus/rail interchange has come from the £40 million Pennine Reach programme aimed at improving public transport bwteen Blackburn and Accrington.

Labour leader of Blackburn-with-Darwen Council Kate Hollern said: “The redevelopment of the market site and the new proposed additional bus station is a key part of the regeneration of the town.

“It will bring major improvements for bus passengers as well as linking better transport links for the Mall and the market.”

John Threlfall, business director at Lancashire United, said: “We are delighted. It is long overdue. The town centre generally is being enhanced and a new bus station will just add to that.

“It will be an improvement for passengers to have a warm covered bus station rather than the existing wet and windswept one on the Boulevard. The bus station is large enough for bigger buses than we currently operate.

“This new bus station is going to be right in the heart of the shopping centre and we hope to see the number of people coming to the town centre by bus where there will be a warm, friendly and dry reception will now rise.”

Tony Duckworth, president of Blackburn Chamber of Trade, said: “I am delighted to have a new bus station but it seems a pity that it has moved away from the existing railway station.

“It doesn’t place people in immediate vicinity of King William Street which we perceive as being the centre of town.”