Sutton Green toilet block saved

The toilet block on Sutton Green was saved last night after councillors spoke out against the plan to demolish it. I spoke out strongly that the building should be renovated and mothballed until we can find the cash to once again turn it into a community asset.

The toilets were closed in 2003 and are now in a state of disrepair. Local ward councillors worked hard to get it turned into a community cafe after the 2010 elections, but sadly the plans fell through when council officers discovered they could not grant a commercial licence because the land was privately owned by a Lady of the Manor.

Efforts to engage the Kensington & Chelsea-based landowner have failed. I suggested naming a cafe after her and inviting her to the official opening, and Lord Graham Tope invited her to tea in the Lords, but all sadly to no avail! However, local councillors have not given up hope that the building can yet be turned into something of benefit to the community.

Speaking against the proposal to demolish it – as last nights’ Sutton Local Committee – I said that once the block is demolished we can’t get it back. We have encountered popular support to turn the block to good use, and officers’ plans to simply knock it down and cover the location with grass was not acceptable.

I would only agree to demolition if it was to be replaced with something that enhanced Sutton Green and had community support. Lord Tope also spoke in favour of keeping the block, and all but one of the seven voting councillors present agreed. It will now be refurbished and mothballed with the roof tiles replaced or made safe.

The cost of demolition would have been £19,000 but the cost of refurbishment and mothballing is estimated at £6,900 with a subsequent annual maintenance cost of £1,600 per year. It is hoped that new section 106 ‘planning gain’ money from the forthcoming major Zurich building / gasworks redevelopment could be used to turn the toilet block into a community asset once again.