Green light to build £100,000 public toilets

Wilmslow Town Council has been granted planning permission to provide public toilets in the town park.

They have been given the go ahead to erect a building containing two public toilets and a kiosk. The block will be located in the corner of the car park at The Carrs, adjacent to the children's playground. It will replace three car parking spaces.

The intention is for the toilets and kiosk to be open from 8am to 6pm daily and the toilets will be monitored by CCTV.

There will be a 20p charge for using the toilets to fund the ongoing cleaning and maintenance.

The overall cost of the project will be in the region of £108,000, £30,000 of which will come from section 106 monies passed over by Cheshire East Council. Wilmslow Town Council has earmarked £65,000 for the scheme and the balance will come from their general reserves.

Having providing the majority of the funding, Wilmslow Town Council will own and maintain the facility and use the income from the toilets and kiosk to offset costs.

Speaking when the planning application was submitted Cllr Martin Watkin, Chairman Wilmslow Town Council,said "Providing toilets at this site has been an aspiration of the Town Council for several years firstly in supporting Cheshire East Council's efforts in providing a facility and latterly when it became apparent that a direct approach was most likely to bring about a timely conclusion."

The plans can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for planning reference 16/2831M.

Public Toilets, The Carrs


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Geoff Ferguson
Wednesday 10th August 2016 at 1:06 pm
So providing these public toilets has been an aspiration of the council for several years, in all that time did it not cross their minds that losing three car parking spaces is not such a good idea?
Surely people should be encouraged to use public spaces, especially with a new toilet facility, reducing car parking spaces in Wilmslow is not the way to do it.
Looking at the plans there are several better locations than the car park for this new building
Nick Jones
Wednesday 10th August 2016 at 1:35 pm
Geoff; Don't worry, They'll be permanently closed in a matter of weeks.. As with most of the other similarly constructed facilities.... ( Carr's car park @ Styal , Sainsburys Car Park ) IMHO the design is the problem, [sic] this will be an expensive waste of money and not be beneficial to anyone. Sad... but inevitable as not much thought has gone into anything other than doing 'more of the same'.
Debra Conroy
Wednesday 10th August 2016 at 3:10 pm
This is a ridiculous waste of money when there is already a toilet block at the other end of the Carrs which could be renovated and extended to house a kiosk without taking up any car parking spaces. Cheshire East Council are experts at wasting valuable money.
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 10th August 2016 at 7:50 pm
Debra, children won't make it to the far end of the Carrs.
WTC must be in despair at the pitifully slow pace of CEC and their stingy contribution. Considering the tens of millions of Pounds Wilmslow contributes, it surely continues to prove that we are a cash cow. CEC care little for us. It's no wonder that the worm is turning with more independent Councillors here and elsewhere being voted in by disillusioned tax payers.
Peter Evans
Wednesday 10th August 2016 at 10:41 pm
If providing a couple of toilets provides an aspiration for WTC, then I think they need to get out more. If they really don't have better things to do with the money we provide to them, then I really wonder why WTC exists... Well, there are lots of good things they could do, providing toilets with dubious requirements or benefits seems very tertiary. And as far a taking up 3 parking spaces, I don't think I've ever seen that car park even nearly full.
And can someone explain why two loos costs anything like £100,000?
David Jefferay
Thursday 11th August 2016 at 8:55 am
Hi folks,
I think you're probably right that we, as members of Wtc, do need to get out more but that isn't really relevant to this discussion.

There's always going to be people who agree with projects and those who don't. In this case, broadly speaking, people who regularly use the Carrs (particularly those with small children) we have found to be strongly supportive of the plan (supported by research from the Friends of the Carrs group...not impartial/ independent research but research nonetheless). As it is such a great resource for the town, the idea (putting aside cost and sustainability for the moment) of facilities to allow more people to visit and stay there longer, I would have thought would be welcomed.

Considering the cost, yes it is a lot of money but Wtc did go out to competitive tender (noting comments on previous articles that others had offered to help without response) and the quotes were all in this region. Unfortunately that is what it costs for a turn-key solution. Would it be possible to do it cheaper by doing it ourselves (commissioning an architect to design it and then project manage it ourselves)?Possibly, but Wtc do not have the resources to do that (we have 1 full time clerk, 1 part time assistant clerk and 15 part time volunteer councillors); the project would take much longer and the design would be inferior to one produced by an experienced supplier who has already made the mistakes. Sometimes it is important to know your own limitations and buy in expertise. Wtc therefore took the decision that it was worth the money for a long term asset with a life span of decades.

Could the money be better spent elsewhere? That's a matter for debate. You can look at the minutes of town council meetings to see where all the money goes but I believe, on the whole, we spend it wisely for the benefit of the town and its residents. That said, we're open to suggestions for projects and anyone with ideas can either contact their town councillors or, even better, get involved in the neighbourhood plan project (

As Nick points out, all that assumes it doesn't close within the weeks. To mitigate that risk, the design incorporates vandal resistant features, automated locking at set times and cctv. Plus its prominent location mitigates the key problem associated with the demise of the existing block at the other end of the Carrs (I'll not spell out what the issue was). Also, these are under the control of Wtc, not Cheshire East, so we don't run the risk of Cheshire east pulling the funding as has been the case on other services/facilities.

Regarding the exact location of the block, there were constraints in terms of development of the greenbelt and accessibility of utilities. The loss of 3 parking spaces is less than ideal but we took the decision that we didn't want to develop the greenbelt and it needed to be in a prominent (visible) location for the reason mentioned above. We therefore considered two positions on the tarmacced area; one which occupied the 3 spaces and one that didn't. We chose the one we did because it had a greater chance of getting planning permission (thus avoiding a long planning permission saga and the associated costs of resubmission) and it had access to the required utilities.

From a personal perspective (not as a town councillor), I have my reservations about the kiosk (I suspect it may be difficult to get and retain tenants) but if it does work, it will offset the costs of the block so on balance I think the benefit of the opportunity probably outweighs the risk. Also, not having any children, it is likely that I'll never make use of the facilities.

However, I do see the benefit to the town and am pleased that we have a council who take on such projects rather than just whinging about a borough council that doesn't give the town what it wants/needs.
Oliver Romain
Thursday 11th August 2016 at 9:59 am
Peter the car park is regularly full at peak times and the tiolets are needed. But not as much as in the town centre. David why dont you find out why the customer toilets in the library have been marked 'private' even though they are perfectly servicable. Holmes Chapel library users have toilets why not Wilmslow?
Kathleen Morris
Thursday 11th August 2016 at 10:45 am
Oliver, I don't know why there are no public toilets in the library either - there are, as you point out, in other libraries. I can only state that when using the reference library for a prolonged period of study, when I needed the toilet, I was told by the library staff to go to Sainsburys. I bet Sainsbury's are not pleased with this.
Geoff Ferguson
Thursday 11th August 2016 at 12:56 pm

I still think the council is wrong to locate the toilet block on the parking spaces, there are much better places such as, an extension to the community centre or anywhere not on the car park.
Quoting from your comment "The loss of 3 parking spaces is less than ideal but we took the decision that we didn't want to develop the greenbelt" so the council do not want to build a small toilet block on greenbelt, but hundreds of houses are encouraged ?
Jon Armstrong
Thursday 11th August 2016 at 1:12 pm
The Parish Hall, which I think is what you mean by the Community Centre, does not belong to either Cheshire East Council or WTC, and is owned by the church.
David Jefferay
Thursday 11th August 2016 at 3:03 pm
Oliver, ok. I will ask.

Geoff, don't confuse Cheshire East council with Wilmslow town council. It is Cheshire East's plan to build houses on greenbelt, not Wtc.
I concede that Wtc stance is to allow some development of the greenbelt for commercial purposes but the toilet block certainly would not pass the 'exceptional circumstances' test.
Pete Taylor
Thursday 11th August 2016 at 3:35 pm
What happened to the "space-age(!) automatic toilet in Bank Square, was it abducted by aliens?
Perhaps two of those might have been cheaper and would have taken up less space (the final frontier).
David Jefferay
Thursday 11th August 2016 at 4:59 pm
Oliver, I've just been into the library to ask about the toilets (oh, the glamour of being a Town Councillor!).
I had a lovely chat with the staff in there and they told me that the toilets there are the staff toilets and for those who have hired the function room (although they have been flexible on occasion for small kids). However, they're not set up to be public toilets and they don't have a janitor to service them.
They did say that toilets other libraries have been set up as public toilets (Holmes Chapel and knutsford). However, given that the library is outside the control of Wtc (and Cheshire east have no interest in providing toilets in Wilmslow), that's not an option open to us.
Oliver Romain
Thursday 11th August 2016 at 9:45 pm
David thanks for responding. Did you see the tiolets. They are customer toilets with the sign taken off and 'private' attached. It would cost very little to arrange for extra cleaning support and materials and hey presto we have public toilets in the town centre. At the very least the library customers of all ages should have use of these toilets without having to plead with library staff or have the threat of a toddler making a puddle. Isnt WTC there to challenge CEC over such matters.
John Stewart
Thursday 11th August 2016 at 11:51 pm
This comment is not about the need for the facility. My concerns are:
1. It is vastly overpriced. Mine, and other local companies, could complete this project as a 'turn key' operation for a budget approaching 50% less.
2. Primitive design. Poor design is never justifiable: budget is an excuse for poor design. Difficult criteria exposes good design.
3. The proposal offers none of the values of sustainability and environmental awareness encouraged of others. Grey water? Solar power? Wi-fi link/hotspot?
4. It says nothing about Wilmslow other than we are a town that lacks ambition, aspiration, style and efficiency. Where is the PR?
5. It makes a mockery of varied voluntary groups that try to promote Wilmslow and, who struggle to raise funds.
The same council will tell us that they have no money. No wonder, if this is the result of a small project with 'years' of consideration. Every pound spent should be maximised.
This proposal is 'bog standard'!
Nick Jones
Friday 12th August 2016 at 11:59 am
@David; Point taken and I appreciate you and others are doing your best here, but realistically we just can’t have more of the same... The evidence is there to show why it won’t work… and little to show how it will…. Dare I suggest that the exterior walls (if built) will get more use than the interior. Pissoirs are still in use in Europe, ( and I don’t suggest they are suitable for the fairer sex or those with mobility issues, but the fact they are ‘semi open’ and modestly covered (excuse the pun) does not present the same parental issues / concerns.

@John; hits the key points on design, innovation and cost, Not for one minute do I suggest that the council make a ‘Green’ Earth Closet and plant acres of Wooly Mullein nearby, or build a Temple to Cloacina (The Roman god of sewers) But, If this really is required, It needs some thought to be meaningful and purposeful…. Before anything is constructed can this considered or put out to tender ? Im not bothered about the ‘requirement ‘ But I am concerned about the ridiculous amount of Tax payers money involved.
Estelle Lewis
Friday 12th August 2016 at 10:11 pm
Why can't the toilets at Styal Rd car park be fitted with an automatic locking facility? I can quite understand the need for toilets near the playground but either open the existing ones or demolish them to make more parking spaces.

Another point; it was mentioned that the toilets to be erected would be safer because they were more visible to the road and would therefore not be used for xyz purposes BUT, if memory serves me right, there used to be a kiddy play house at that end but it was demolished because it was being used at night for smoking pot.
David Jefferay
Saturday 13th August 2016 at 9:10 am
Oliver, No I didn't see them. I can't disagree with you but Cheshire east would seem to have no appetite for providing toilets of any guise so it's a bit of a non starter. Also I'm not going to criticise the library staff because it's not their job to maintain toilets and I can understand their reluctance to let people use them (once you start letting people in, word gets around and you'll spend all day monitoring toilets instead of managing the library).
Re Wtc, we don't exist to challenge CEC, we've different responsibilities to Cheshire east...we're supposed to look after things of local interest. I suppose public toilets should fall under Cheshire east remit but, like I said above, Wtc have taken the decision that something needs to be done so we're getting on with it.

John, again, I can't disagree with your points. But I reiterate my previous point, we don't have the manpower at the council to assign to projects like this. It was your comment on an earlier article (and Stuart Redgard's) that I was referring to above when I stated we'd gone out to competitive tender. We went out to the three most likely candidates and we placed a contract with the best of the three. It may lack ambition but, from my perspective, we're not looking to win architecture prizes, we're looking to provide the town with a facility as best we can. However, I think you have touched on something in that we should be looking to make more of an effort to place contracts with local firms than we perhaps do now for jobs like this.

Nick, that is the point...we do need to cater for all needs and I'm not sure the 'continental style' toilets would go down too well in Wilmslow. Why do you think they won't work? Such toilets work well all over the country.

Estelle, I don't know what plans Cheshire east have for the existing ones but, yes, it probably would make sense to demolish them.
Re smoking pot, these will be locked at night and the cctv should act as a deterrent against stuff like that.
Ryan Dance
Saturday 13th August 2016 at 8:29 pm
rhetoric..rhetoric....boring reams of overblown...ridiculously detailed comments against a sensible idea to provide toilets.

Ywan. Get on and build them. Its been going on for years! China will have built 70 airports within the next 5 years. will still be debating a small toilet facility.
David Jefferay
Sunday 14th August 2016 at 11:11 am
Ryan, I know it's small money in the big scale of things but it's still £100k of public money and there is no 'opposition party' as such to challenge it so I'm quite happy to have discussions like this.
Oliver Romain
Monday 15th August 2016 at 8:18 am
Peter why shouldnt Wilmslow library users have toilets they can use? Go and look at them and explain a good reason to keep them locked. What is the difference between CEC park and CEC library? It makes no sense to say WTC can fund £100k for park toilets but have no interest in helping reinstate the use of customer toilets in the library.
Ryan Dance
Monday 15th August 2016 at 9:37 pm
Despite all the waffle and boring reams if clap trap from a few. The toilets are needed. Get on with it. In 2020 (when they finally get built) I look forward to buying a drink and using a toilet when required. What a novel idea.
Pete Taylor
Friday 19th August 2016 at 4:38 pm
Am I correct in thinking this is a single toilet plus a disabled toilet which will need a RADAR key?