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Owner of Cafe Britannia in talks to turn public toilets into takeaway-deli

PUBLISHED: 00:28 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 00:55 14 March 2019

Davina Tanner OBE chief Executive of Britannia Enterprises which is in talks over options for the Long Stratton public toilet building. Picture: Matt Keal/Matt Keal Photography

Davina Tanner OBE chief Executive of Britannia Enterprises which is in talks over options for the Long Stratton public toilet building. Picture: Matt Keal/Matt Keal Photography

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The social enterprise behind Norwich’s Cafe Britannia is in talks to redevelop Long Stratton’s public toilet building into a takeaway, deli and retail unit.

The public toilets in Long Stratton that could be turned into shops or a cafe. Picture: Simon ParkinThe public toilets in Long Stratton that could be turned into shops or a cafe. Picture: Simon Parkin

Britannia Enterprises, which runs five venues in the city, including cafes and a pub, offering mentoring and training to prisoners and ex-prisoners, is working with South Norfolk Council on options for the building in Swan Lane.

South Norfolk is divesting responsibility for the upkeep of its public toilets to parish councils however prolonged talks with Long Stratton Council broke down.

Approval of a subsequent planning application for the building to be redeveloped into shops, a cafe or takeaway, retaining a single unisex public toilet, has proved controversial. A petition has been launched calling for the loos to remain open.

Café Park Britannia at Waterloo Park, Norwich, is one of five venues run by Britannia Enterprises which offering mentoring and training to prisoners and ex-prisoners. Picture: Denise BradleyCafé Park Britannia at Waterloo Park, Norwich, is one of five venues run by Britannia Enterprises which offering mentoring and training to prisoners and ex-prisoners. Picture: Denise Bradley

At a meeting on March 18 the district council’s cabinet committee will discuss options for the building including a possible social enterprise project with Britannia Enterprises.

A report states: “Elsewhere Britannia Enterprises has a strong model and track record in working with ex-offenders and helping to rehabilitate vulnerable people who would benefit from employment and social support to build confidence.”

Cafe Britannia first opened in the former Britannia Barracks on Mousehold Heath in 2014 and now has four other venues: Guildhall Britannia; Park Britannia in Waterloo Park; a pub called Britannia Gardens; and Court Britannia at Norwich Crown Court.

South Norfolk Council is divesting responsibility for its public toilets and is seeking a social enterprise to redevelop the building in Long Stratton. Picture: Simon ParkinSouth Norfolk Council is divesting responsibility for its public toilets and is seeking a social enterprise to redevelop the building in Long Stratton. Picture: Simon Parkin

The organisation, run by chief executive Davina Tanner OBE, works with prisoners in both closed and open conditions at HMP Norwich and HMP Wayland, and employs 50 people in its cafés and shop.

A Britannia Enterprises spokeswoman said: “The project with South Norfolk Council is an exciting extension of Britannia Enterprises’ work. The social enterprise will be working with offenders and ex-offenders in the renovation and development of the toilet building, providing valuable work experience and skills development - as is part of their core ethos.

“The aim for the building in Long Stratton is to create a takeaway outlet/deli which will be run by Britannia and a small retail kiosk for something like a nail bar. Most importantly the project will retain a public toilet for Long Stratton.”

Britannia Enterprises works with HMP Norwich and HMP Wayland and employs 50 people in its cafés, including Bistro Britannia Cafe at Norwich Guildhall. Picture: Antony KellyBritannia Enterprises works with HMP Norwich and HMP Wayland and employs 50 people in its cafés, including Bistro Britannia Cafe at Norwich Guildhall. Picture: Antony Kelly

Long Stratton Council had argued taking over responsibility for the toilets would have left it with no choice but raise the council tax precept. It is now seeking to reopen discussions with the district council.

Becky Buck, clerk to Long Stratton Council, said: “When Long Stratton Parish Council became aware of the planning application, they immediately asked to re-open the conversation of adopting the toilets on the grounds that their position had changed with central government abolishing business rates on central toilets and Long Stratton increasing the resource available to them.”

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