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Public toilet demolition plans flushed in Norfolk town

PUBLISHED: 17:02 25 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:02 25 July 2018

The public toilets in the Mere Mouth are to be renovated. Picture: Marc Betts

The public toilets in the Mere Mouth are to be renovated. Picture: Marc Betts

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A Norfolk town is set to keep its town centre public toilet block after it was saved from demolition.

The public toilets in the Mere Mouth are to be renovated. Picture: Marc BettsThe public toilets in the Mere Mouth are to be renovated. Picture: Marc Betts

Proposals to pull down the vital toilet facilities in Diss had sparked an outcry and seen hundreds of people and more than 40 town centre businesses sign a petition to keep them open.

Currently owned by South Norfolk Council - which is under no obligation to provide public toilet facilities - ownership of the toilets was due to transfer to the Diss Town Council in March, following an £80,000 refurbishment of the building.

However, a structural survey carried out last year found serious problems with the building’s foundations, leading the district to decide refurbishing the building would be uneconomical and instead suggesting the toilets should be demolished.

The public toilets in the Mere Mouth are to be renovated. Picture: Marc BettsThe public toilets in the Mere Mouth are to be renovated. Picture: Marc Betts

Now the district council, which previously provided £70,000 to refurbish the Corn Hall toilets, has announced the refurbishment will go ahead after all saving the building from the bulldozers.

Diss Town Council voted in April to ask the district to demolish the toilets and consult residents on the longer-term opportunities for the redevelopment of the Mere’s Mouth area.

This would have included the future provision of toilets and options around engaging local businesses in a community toilet scheme.

Birgritte Mager, of The Diss Publishing Bookshop, who launched a petition to save the toilets from demolition. Picture: Sabrina JohnsonBirgritte Mager, of The Diss Publishing Bookshop, who launched a petition to save the toilets from demolition. Picture: Sabrina Johnson

In a statement the district council said: “To give the town council time to consult its residents and develop its vision for the area, the district council agreed, at the town council’s request, to keep the toilets open until the end of September.

“Three months have now passed and although the district council has not been formally informed of any change to this position there has been no consultation. We also understand informally that the town council does not have any plans for the development of the Mere’s Mouth site or a plan for what should happen to the toilets.

“The district council has therefore decided, having listened to the residents of Diss and considered the various options available, to refurbish the toilets in the Mere’s Mouth.”

The public toilets in the Mere Mouth are to be renovated. Picture: Marc BettsThe public toilets in the Mere Mouth are to be renovated. Picture: Marc Betts

The decision was welcomed by Diss Town Mayor Trevor Wenman. “It’s good news,” he said. “We are still in negotiations with the district council but the main thing for the people of Diss is that it doesn’t now include the demolition of the toilets. Refurbishment was always our preferred option.”

In a statement Diss Town Council said: “The Town Council is delighted that the Mere’s Mouth toilets will be renovated by South Norfolk Council and kept open for public use. This is the outcome that we have been working to since 2015.

“As a third party — we don’t own the site and we are not leaseholders of the building, we have always been in favour of the district council carrying out their obligations as per the 2015 agreement.

“The Town Council formally notified the District Council that it had no aspiration to redevelop the Mere’s Mouth area in June.

“The Visitor Information Centre and public toilets are available during the Corn Hall’s opening hours.”

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