Thousands 'flushed away' in council plan to demolish toilet block

The toilet block at Cowper Road, in Dereham which has been closed since 2008.

The toilet block at Cowper Road, in Dereham which has been closed since 2008. - Credit: Archant

A councillor has said his town "deserves better" after the council announced its plan to demolish a block of public toilets that have been out of use for 12  years.

Breckland District councillor Harry Clarke. Picture: Harry Clarke

Breckland District councillor Harry Clarke. Picture: Harry Clarke - Credit: Archant

Plans were submitted to the Breckland Council planning department on January 26 to request permission to demolish the Cowper Road public toilets in Dereham.

The toilet block will be knocked down to create extra parking spaces in the car park.

Since the facilities were closed in 2008, Breckland taxpayers have paid almost £26,000 in non-domestic rates, but the council has insisted the move to demolish the building will "reduce costs to the taxpayer".

A spokesperson said: “As part of our car park refurbishment programme, our Cowper Road car park is planned for resurfacing and new drainage gullies installed.

Breckland District Council

Breckland Council has launched a new video appointment system. - Credit: Ian Burt

"We have taken this opportunity to review the site’s former toilet block.

"While we have considered some possible alternative, it is currently in a deteriorating state so it may be timely to demolish it.

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"By removing the vacant building we can reduce costs to the taxpayer – as the building is subject to building rates – while creating some additional parking capacity."

Breckland used to own both the Barwells Court and Cowper Road toilets but began offering the facilities to town councils to take over.

Dereham Town Council (DTC) were only given the option to take over the Barwell Court toilets, which they have kept open for the last 12 years.

Labour councillor for Dereham Central West and Withburga, Harry Clarke, said the toilet provision in the town is "woefully inadequate" for the size of the area.

Town and district councillor Harry Clarke.

Town and district councillor Harry Clarke.

He said: "I've had a number of residents contact me and complain about toilet provision - not extra parking spaces.

"If we want to improve the town's facilities, attractiveness, and extra footfall through the "Market Town Initiative", I reckon most residents/visitors would plump for better toilets.

"Whilst DTC has provided and maintained the Barwell Court toilets, shouldn't Breckland be doing their bit too?"

The government are currently discussing whether domestic rates on public toilets should be lifted, with the bill already having a second reading in the House of Lords.

The plans will now be looked at by Breckland's planning department.