Plans to replace public toilets with shops given go-ahead
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The go-ahead has been given to changes that could see a toilet block turned into shops, a cafe or food takeaway despite concerns it could leave Long Stratton with a single unisex loo.
South Norfolk Council's development management committee has approved a change of use for the public toilets on Swan Lane that could now allow them to be converted.
The council, which is offering a low interest loan to help pay for redevelopment work, has confirmed it has had interest from people for the building. It is offering a 10-year lease on the proviso that whoever takes it over provides one disabled accessible unisex toilet for public use.
The proposals have been opposed by Long Stratton, Forncett and Great Moulton parish councils while objections from villagers have included concerns that the loss of public toilets could affect elderly people and families with young children.
In a letter of objection David Bezkorowajny, from Forncett St Mary, said: 'Sick and elderly constantly use these toilets. To provide just one toilet for all is ridiculous. A few weeks ago a coach full of young children were queuing up to use this much-needed facility.'
In its consultation Long Stratton Parish Council stated: 'With the current plan there is one toilet provided. This is insufficient for the size of Long Stratton as it stands. There is an application for 1,800 dwellings which will also increase the need for public facilities.
'Long Stratton toilets are the only public facility on the A140 corridor between Diss and Norwich and to reduce the facilities will impact coaches that regularly transport those of an older generation. This will also impact families with younger children on school runs as well as users of local facilities with no other conveniences.'
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Michael Edney, district council deputy leader, said they had been working with town and parish councils to take over management of public toilets but Long Stratton had chosen not to. The building's occupier would maintain the upkeep of the single unisex toilet, he added.
Long Stratton Parish Council said the strength of local feeling about the plans meant it might be willing to reopen a conversation surrounding adoption of the loos 'subject to terms and conditions'.
It follows an announcement in October's budget that the government had abolished business rates for public toilets.