Long-awaited renovation finally in sight for Dereham’s public toilets

Barwells Court public toilets, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Barwells Court public toilets, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

The long-awaited renovation of Dereham's only public toilet block is finally on the horizon after the town council submitted its formal planning application for the work.

The toilets in Barwells Court alley, just off the Market Place, have been awaiting refurbishment for several years – which has become a source of mounting frustration within the town centre.

But now an application has been submitted to Breckland District Council for renovation work which will equip the building with new gents and ladies cubicles, a disabled toilet and a semi-circular urinal room which will be open 24 hours a day.

If planning approval is given, it is hoped the £168,000 project could be completed by May this year.

Town councillor Robert Hambidge said: 'We were aware that this issue seemed to be raised with monotonous regularity at town council meetings by members of the public, but it is not something you can simply do straight away.

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'The Memorial Hall took all our resources for a long period of time. If we had unlimited resources we could get everything done instantly.

'I would like to have a million pounds to put three sets of toilets all around Dereham, but we were constrained by a million other things.

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'I am sorry it has taken so long but it is not an easy thing. To get to this point is a credit to the town council and to the town clerk.'

The ageing toilet block was handed over to Dereham Town Council from the district council in 2007, but the main spending priority in the following years became the Memorial Hall, the arts venue on Norwich Street which re-opened in December 2011 after a £2.3m restoration.

The original budget for the toilet block upgrade was set at £120,000, which was increased by £48,000 to allow for the 24/7 urinals which, in turn, has enabled the disabled toilet to be accessed under a 'radar key', as requested by the Dereham Access Group.

Town clerk Tony Needham thanked the Dereham Access Group who he said had come up with 'a number of very sensible and pragmatic suggestions which have improved the overall design'.

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