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Number of Thatcham toilet cubicles may be reduced

Report considers future of building, possibly for retail or pop-up market space

Number of Thatcham toilet cubicles may be reduced

THE first steps towards “reviving” Thatcham Broadway – by reducing the number of public toilets – are being taken.  

In a bid to save money on the public toilets, Thatcham Town Council commissioned an architect to assess their use.

A report conducted by Thatcham-based Mursell and Company said it was asked to reduce running costs and to maximise any income possibilities. 

The report considers reducing the 12 toilets down to four or two cubicles to make better use of the facility.

Options include using the freed-up area for retail, as pop-up market space, with an option to hold meetings or functions, or as a weather shelter or office space.  

Discussing the findings at a meeting last week, town council leader Jason Collis (Con, Thatcham North) said: “I think the options proposed do give us a chance to make a better use of the building… using larger toilets gives us capacity for disabled loos and, according to the estimates for use, I can’t see anyone having to wait to use the loo if we have three or four available.

“I don’t have any strong feelings about the extra space at this moment in time.”

Agreeing on the usage, Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said that Costa and Waitrose also provided facilities.

He said: “We don’t need these open all hours.

“Those around Thatcham know that these stay open until 8pm if they are desperate, so there are other areas available.” 

Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North) said he would want to see the costs for each proposal.

“If it’s going to cost £50,000 and all it’s going to be is a store room, that doesn’t seem good value,” he said. 

“You can hire one for 40 years for that money.” 

Dominic Boeck (Con, Thatcham South and Crookham) said: “I see this as an opportunity to make a first step in reviving the Broadway. 

“We have spoken about this a lot over the years.

“I would like to see something better in the Broadway, rather than using it as a functional use if you like. 

“We need to do some more work and get a better idea of the figures and have a discussion about this.” 

The town council acquired the toilets for £1 in 2015 from West Berkshire Council, which offloaded them because they were surplus to requirements. 

Councillors also heard that work needs to be carried out on the loos, which has been put on hold for the time being.  

Services manager Naomi Mildenhall said that taps needed to be changed because of a Legionnaires disease risk, three heaters are out of use and an out-of-hours cubicle is currently not in use.  

At the time of the hand over, approximately 100 people used the toilets each day according to figures from West Berkshire Council.    

But Mr Boeck said the figures were simplistic and didn’t account for peak usage on Fridays, owing to the expansion of the town’s market. 

The Mursell and Company report draws on briefs from Thatcham Vision and the Turley Report – an assessment between West Berkshire Council and Turley Associates to set out ideas for improving the Broadway and High Street.

The Turley report said that the public loos were “an inappropriate focal point and landmark” having “the wrong uses in the wrong place within the Broadway”. 

Mursell and Company also noted the NWN’s recent coverage of the toilets’ future usage, with social media comments saying that toilets in the town were essential. 

Others suggested that the toilets could be used by a youth club, as an ice cream parlour, retail unit, community space, museum, drop-in café and pop-up shops. 

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