Well-known ‘eyesore’ public toilets demolished after standing empty for eight years
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
For years they were a welcome sight for late-night drinkers, often put to use on the way home or while waiting for the bus.
The Tombland public toilets, off Queen Street, became a landmark in their own right, in an area once home to much of the city’s clubland.
But the concrete block was closed by Norwich City Council in 2012 due to maintenance costs, and since then has sat empty.
As the years passed it was branded an eyesore, with calls to either reopen it or demolish it altogether.
And work to rip down the block started on Tuesday as part of the shake-up to Tombland, which will see bus stops moved and open space created for pedestrians.
Phillipa Clements, of Tombland Bookshop, raised concerns about the wider works, in particular the loss of temporary parking spaces, which she said may impact the area, and the removal of two trees as part of the work. Norfolk County Council says additional trees will be planted.
She said: “Not being able to drop someone off is a big issue when you are a big city like Norwich.
“Instead, people will be taken towards the big car parks and out of Tombland.”
The timing of the work was previously criticised by local businesses, beginning at the end of July, when many traders were hoping to use their outdoor space during the nice weather and Eat Out to Help Out to recoup lost income during the pandemic.
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Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, and chairman of the Transforming Cities joint committee, said: “I am delighted that works are progressing well in Tombland, a key city centre scheme within our wider programme of Transforming Cities proposals.
“This project will make a massive difference to the look and feel of this historic area, particularly with the demolition of the toilets, which have been a public eyesore for many years.
“Plans for any necessary tree removal are still being finalised in close conjunction with tree specialists ahead of the second phase of works but will result in additional trees planted overall and the completed project will support the vibrancy and long term economic recovery of this area.”
In 2012, the block became the latest in a string of public toilets around Norfolk to be closed. Figures from 2019 showed more than 650 public toilets across the UK had stopped being maintained by local authorities since 2010.