No-frills toilet block planned for Sidmouth sparks calls for a district council re-think

Calls have been made for the district council to rethink its plans for a no-frills public loo block near Sidmouth swimming pool.

Opponents to plans for a new “utilitarian” toilet block outside Sidmouth’s swimming pool still want to flush the scheme in spite of revisions to the proposal, writes local democracy reporter Bradley Gerrard.

East Devon District Council has submitted plans for a new toilet block consisting of one unisex toilet, one accessible toilet and a changing places toilet.

If approved, it would also include the replacement of the existing secure cycle parking.

But objectors have criticised the design, even though the council has now submitted revised drawings.

Sidmouth Town Council called the proposed block “utilitarian”, and queried its location.

“The block would obscure and spoil the visibility and view of the tourist information centre and swimming pool, key facilities, and requirements for visitors to Sidmouth, and would result in congestion in this busy and already restricted area,” the town council said in its written objection.

The town council added that it felt some of the pictures submitted by the applicant were “contradictory and misleading”.

Councillor Ian Barlow (Independent, Sidmouth Town), who sits on East Devon District Council, said he supported the town council’s view “at present” but remained of an “open mind until I have heard all information for or against”.

“I would also like to question the pictures that have been presented as alternate views by our professional experts, as they appear misleading and confusing, and not helpful as they are incorrect and could be viewed as intentionally trying to mislead public opinion,” he said.

“I’m sure this is an honest mistake, but action should be taken to correct it as soon as possible.”

Councillor John Loudon (Independent, Sidmouth Rural) said there were already changing facilities for disabled users within the swimming pool, and that augmenting those would be a preferable option to the submitted plans.

“I would have thought it would be more appropriate to provide additional such facilities within the swimming pool site rather than inviting users to get changed in the [proposed]block and then having to publicly walk through into the swimming pool,” he said.

“This is analogic to expecting disabled people to use a back door to a shop, rather than investing in making the front door entrance accessible.”

Besides East Devon’s own conservation team, which called the proposal “unacceptable”, six out of seven comments from members of the public were objections.

Concerns included the potential reduction in parking spaces, particularly accessible ones, near the pool, the fact only five bicycle parking spaces would survive out of the 15 there now, and that the expense of the scheme seemed a lot just to provide three toilets.

The proposal will be debated at East Devon’s planning committee meeting on Tuesday, May 21.

SPONSORED POST: World class headline acts are announced for the Sidmouth International Jazz and Blues Festival 2024: Tony Hadley, Roachford and Ruby Turner are among the line-up heading to East Devon in May for five days of live music and entertainment