Alnwick public toilets set for improvement
Two Alnwick toilet blocks are among the facilities that are in the pipeline for improvements as Northumberland County Council looks ahead to its forthcoming budget.
The county council’s Cabinet is being asked to approve £1.35m for a three-year programme of improvement and refurbishment work – with the final sign off then by full council at the budget setting meeting on February 23rd.
Northumberland County Council is responsible for 54 public toilets, many of which have received only essential maintenance in the past decade, with a backlog of refurbishment work required across most facilities.
Now a major capital investment programme is being put forward to improve the standards of public toilets, with facilities in the larger main towns and key tourism destinations getting a programme of full refurbishment and modernisation.
All remaining county council toilets will undergo essential refurbishment, so facilities are brought up to a decent standard of repair and are easier to keep clean and maintain.
Around £920,000 will be allocated to improving facilities in the main towns, with work including backlog maintenance, replacement of old equipment where required and in some cases new cubicles and internal walls.
A further £500,000 will be spent on essential refurbishment on all remaining facilities, while £50,000 will go towards accessibility improvements in all toilets involving simple changes such as colour contrasts, better signage and lighting which research has shown can make public toilets easier to use for people with dementia, incontinence, sight or other sensory impairments.
Councillor John Riddle, Cabinet Member for Local Services, said: “It’s very important we invest in improvements to these vital facilities which we know are valued by both residents and visitors – at a time when some areas are closing their toilets.
“We want everyone to have access to top quality facilities, and these refurbishments will ensure people have access to modern, improved and clean toilets throughout the county.
The facilities set for full refurbishment and modernisation are:
- Alnwick, Greenwell Lane
- Alnwick, The Shambles
- Amble, TIC
- Amble, Broomhill
- Ashington, Station Road
- Berwick, Castlegate
- Berwick Spittal
- Blyth, Keel Row
- Blyth, Market Place*
- Fountain Head, Seaton Sluice
- Hexham, Wentworth car park
- Hexham, St Marys Wynd
- Plessey Woods Country Park
- Warkworth Beach
* Blyth, Market Place will be demolished as part of the Future High Street (FHS) Programme so no investment will be made at this time, but it is anticipated that FHS will re-provision with new modern facilities.
** The upgrade of Wooler facilities will be funded separately through Borderlands funding.
The proposed accessibility improvements are informed by best practice design guidance document ‘Improving Access to Toilets in Northumberland’ which was developed by researchers from Newcastle University in collaboration with Carers Northumberland and the County Council.
Pictured: Alnwick public toilets at Greenwell Lane and The Shambles.