December 9 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 13, 2013
A Golden Mile public toilet block is set to be knocked down, with nearby tourist attractions fearing a “disastrous effect” on trade.
The loos, behind the Marina Centre, are busy with holidaymakers throughout the summer months, located next to the Pirates’ Cove Adventure Golf course, the beach and across the road from arcades.
But borough council leader Trevor Wainwright said the toilets need to be levelled to make way for a new car park for the Marina Centre.
A £3.5m revamp is in the offing to bring the dated leisure centre into the 21st century, and Mr Wainwright said lack of parking has been a major problem in the past. But the plans have sparked criticism.
Billy Daniels, who runs Pirates’ Cove Adventure Golf, wrote: “To have no toilet facilities in the middle of a tourist resort would be unthinkable and disastrous for tourism businesses.”
The public toilets comprise 16 cubicles in the gents, together with a disabled loo and around 20 urinals, with a similar number of cubicles in the ladies.
In this year’s Mercury annual loo survey they were among the cleanest in the borough, tied in third place with the Market Gates toilets.
The nearest loos to the Marina Centre block are those at Britannia bowling green, 540m to the north, and the jetty car park loos which are 380m to the south.
Mr Daniels said he objected to the demolition, which would be “particularly unhelpful” for elderly and disabled visitors, and those with young children.
He added that the loos were in the “prime tourist area” on the seafront, and suggested building a smaller car park or reducing the size of the existing toilets as a compromise.
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said he was concerned that an impact assessment had not been carried out.
“I know some of the amusements and shops will be worried about losing the amenities in a central part of town,” he explained.
“The nearest ones will be about a quarter of a mile away and if you’re disabled that’s quite a long way to go.
“I do know that they want more and better car parking but I want reassurance about the loss of important amenities.”
Council leader Mr Wainwright confirmed that there are no plans to offer replacement loos if the Marina Centre block is demolished.
Though he furthered: “We’ve got an arrangement that people can use the toilets in the Marina Centre, but they do have to pay there.
“The car park is being built to accommodate additional parking for people who want to go to the Marina Centre.
“We’ve had a few people expressing concerns that we’re going to lose toilets there, but it’s to create extra spaces with all the refurbishment work going on.”
Improvements to the Marina Centre - opened in 1981 - will include new equipment for the gym, new lockers and a new floor for the sports hall.
A planning application, submitted by the borough council last month, reveals ambitions to knock down the nearby loos, convert landscaped areas into car parking, replace the existing ice cream kiosk and install a ticket-controlled barrier to the car park.
Automatic payment machines would be located inside the Marina Centre, with CCTV monitoring the barriers.
“It’s one of the big problems that the Marina Centre has not had its own designated parking,” said Mr Wainwright. “This is to increase business for the Marina Centre.”
He said he had received a number of concerned calls since around half a dozen toilet attendants were made redundant last year, but these mostly related to drainage and were not a direct result of the staffing change.
The decision as to whether the Marina Centre loos will be demolished will be made by October 17 by the borough council’s planning committee.
If permission is granted, work is expected to start later this year and complete by April 2014.