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Grand designs for Thatcham loos?

Architect to look at best use of town council-run Broadway facilities

Grand designs for Thatcham loos?

GRAND designs could be afloat for Thatcham’s public toilets. 

In an effort to save money on the Broadway loos, Thatcham Town Council is to commission an architect to assess their use. 

The architect would provide an assessment and feasibility study, with the intention to provide an alternative use for any space vacated, should the number of cubicles be reduced. 

The town council acquired the toilets for £1 in 2015, after West Berkshire Council said they were surplus to requirements and sought to offload them. 

The town council took them on without conducting a condition survey and thought they were saving money.

However, the latest figures show that the toilets cost £29,186 to run last year, with maintenance and water the steepest outgoings.  

An efficiency survey predicted very low savings and concluded that while minor works could reduce electricity consumption, little could be done to reduce the water bill. 

The council’s services manager, Naomi Mildenhall, told town councillors at a meeting last week that the condition of the loos “wasn’t brilliant”.

“It will in future need some work doing to it,” she said.

“In some ways we are pre-empting that.”  

She said the architect’s assessment would look at the building as a whole and whether the current number of cubicles was required for the building.

Referring to the Turley report – an assessment between West Berkshire Council and Turley Associates to set out ideas for improving the Broadway and High Street – Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham north) said that the future of the loos needed to be considered in conjunction with the wider plans for the town centre. 

“The architect might turn round and say ‘turn it into a bandstand’, but we have no need for that,” he said.

“West Berkshire Council owns the freehold, so we need to talk to them.

“We don’t want to be doing this piecemeal.”  

The Turley report said that the toilets were “an inappropriate focal point and landmark” in the town centre.

It concluded by considering redevelopment of the area with options for retaining and redesigning the toilets, including new uses such as permanent market stalls or community use, or its demolition and replacement with a new building or meeting place.

Mr Dillon asked whether the move was about cutting costs or the best use of the site. 

Town Council leader Jason Collis (Con, Thatcham north) said: “The building needs to be better used.

“Even if we don’t do anything externally the interior could be better used.” 

Asking about the running costs, Liberal Democrat councillor Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem, Thatcham west) asked whether the condition of the toilets was checked before the town council agreed to take them on. 

“The figures we were using at the time we took over were ones provided by West Berkshire Council,” town clerk Mel Alexander replied. 

“We now have a better understanding of the reality of the figures and that’s what they were costing.

“The town council didn’t ask for a condition survey to be carried out, but we are asking for that routinely now.”

The architects fee for preparing the three schemes would be £1,175.

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Article comments

  • Felinfan

    Felinfan

    08/10/2017 - 14:02

    Speaking as a newcomer to the area, I think that they are in a good place. Fascinating, quaint, building,cleaner than many loos and very convenient. Would pay 5p to use them if it saves them. How about discreet sponsorship? Could use a small area as a much needed bus shelter? Please do not demolish the building, for it helps to maintain the appearance of Thatcham as a friendly old fashioned village in spite of inevitable areas of modernisation

    Reply

  • JCollis

    30/09/2017 - 19:07

    As leader of the town council I can confirm that at no point have we suggested that the toilets should close as part of this exercise. The building is in need of work and it was felt now would be the best time to investigate options for making the best use of the space within the building.

    Reply

  • cadman

    30/09/2017 - 11:11

    keep the toilet, its a public facility use the roof to catch the rain water & add it to the flushing system, I'm sure a smart arsed expert could come up with other green money saving ideas

    Reply

  • Ihavenonickname

    29/09/2017 - 19:07

    These public toilets are an essential part of the town centre. Their condition is not that bad. I'm sure that the water costs can be reduced if Thames Water consultants were brought in to install proven water saving gadgets. What about installing tanks to harvest rainwater from the roof and us this to further reduce water usage. Also install solar water heating and solar pv's for Electricity production. Replace the high energy hand dryers with now low energy ones. Turn the caretaker station into a retail unit by installing and sales hatch inv the external wall and offer a subsidised rent/business rates in return for caretaking duties overy the toilets. It's not rocket science it just requires a bit of creative thinking!

    Reply

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