Thatcham public toilets could become retail premises
Options, including demolition or redesign, mean future of amenity still uncertain
JUST as the future of the Broadway toilets seemed secure new possibilities about their future have been discussed.
After months of political wrangling between the then ruling Liberal Democrats and their Conservative opposition as to who would fund the lavatories, Thatcham Town Council agreed to prevent their closure and buy the toilets from West Berkshire Council for £1 in April this year.
Under the decison, the town council would own the building from October 2015 and be responsible for the running costs and maintenance at £55,000 a year.
But a recent report from the town council looks at the long and short-term future of the toilets.
The current cost includes £35,000 for cleaning and on-site attendance, however the report suggests that the costs could be reduced if the attendant were not employed.
The report also estimates that if cleaning took place twice a day, with open and closing seven days a week, the cleaning cost would be reduced to £22,000.
This, along with reduction to servicing, would bring the overall running costs down to £39,982.
To cover the cost the report suggests that a charge could be introduced, which, if it were 20p, would bring in an estimated £20 a day or £7,200 a year.
As for the long-term future of the loos, West Berkshire Council met with Turley Associates in August 2014 to set out initial ideas for improving the Broadway and High Street.
Turley said that the toilets were “an inappropriate focal point and landmark” in the town centre.
It concludes 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.
Furthermore, correspondence from an unnamed company suggests that the toilets could be split to offer retail use.
Another company states: “What I would do with your central loos is split them with a retail offer and install say three direct access cubicles.
“The cost to you for this will be approx. £80k and the rental of the retail space around £10k per annum (get a valuation).”
And if the town council were to go down this route, it would trigger a clawback clause outlined in the transfer documents.
Speaking at a meeting of Thatcham Town Council’s finance and general purposes committee on Monday town council leader Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said that he would be meeting West Berkshire Council officers to discuss the issues.
It was also mentioned that the chairman of the Thatcham Chamber of Commerce, Jeremy Cottam, would discuss ideas for reducing the running costs.