Seafront toilets plan sent back to drawing board

An artists impression of the new seafront toilets which went before councillors last month
An artists impression of the new seafront toilets which went before councillors last month

New public toilets on Bognor’s promenade were sent back to the drawing board as councillors pooh-poohed proposals.

Arun District Council intends to replace the underground toilets with above-ground facilities and a new foreshore office.

But the council’s development control committee voted to defer making a decision by a majority of seven to six last Wednesday.

Councillor Barbara Oakley said: “I think the actual design is hideous. The roof looks like it’s been hit by a Caribbean hurricane and is about to take off.”

Residents of Esplanade Grande, located opposite the proposed facilities, said the toilets would lead to a loss of privacy and that Arun had failed to consult with them.

However councillor Stephen Haymes said Arun could have built the new buildings under permitted development rights but chose to submit plans for transparency.

Caroline Gosford, of Arun’s economic regeneration team, said: “We have listened, we have heard and seen all the objections come through and we knew this was going to be sensitive. It is smaller footprint buildings that are lower to try to reduce the impact on open seafront views.”

The new loos were announced as part of a review of public toilet provision in the district, with many facilities subject to seasonal opening. The underground toilets were a hotspot for antisocial behaviour and were not accessible to the disabled, Arun argued.

But the design of the new block, with doors facing Esplanade Grande and close to the balustrades, could increase the opportunity for robbery, assault and antisocial behaviour, Sussex Police claimed.

Mrs Oakley criticised plans to make the toilets unisex. She said: “Everybody I’ve talked to says they just don’t want them. They might satisfy the LGBTG or whatever they call themselves but there should be equality – if you give men urinals you should give women at least one single-sex toilet.”

An hour of debate saw councillors eventually defer the decision – although chairman Ricky Bower said he was puzzled what councillors wanted to achieve.

Committee vice chairman Phil Hitchins said: “I understand there are concerns however what I feel is that we have to have toilets on the promenade that are acceptable to the old, the infirm and the disabled. That was not available with the underground toilets.”