Refurbished public toilets in Wick to include internal CCTV, showers, disabled facility and charging gate
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The Highland Council has confirmed that designs for the renovation of the vandalised Wick Whitechapel Road public conveniences have been finalised.
They include a new communal entrance, charging gate, internal CCTV, disabled toilet, upgraded showering facilities and a full internal refurbishment. The current roof will be replaced with a new pitched roof, external walls will be a re-rendered and lockers installed for travellers and town centre users.
The total investment required is believed to be in the region of £0.25m – much less than the £350k quoted by Wick and east Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner in November as the price tag for refurbishment of the facility.
Councillor Bremner, speaking as chair of the Caithness Committee, said: “This project has been extremely challenging. The capital funding requests submitted to council and reviewed last week totalled £1.7 billion. Pitched against so many other requests we have had to work together to make the strong case that investment in our public conveniences is essential.
“For a town the size of Wick to thrive and to fit in with our regeneration plans for the town centre, not to mention to cope with the growing demand, we are aiming to have a facility that will serve the need of locals and visitors now and in the future.”
Discussions have been continuing with a team of council officers, architects, engineers and local council members. Works to date have included completing a title check, reviewing the existing provision, discussing and establishing a full scope of works, indicative work on income generation proposals and a structural condition survey.
Councillor Bremner added: “A number of funding sources have been identified. It will not be an easy process bringing it all together. Planning and building warrants need to be processed. The tender process will have to be put in place and, subject to funding being finalised and a contractor being appointed, it will still be a number of months before a new facility will be opened. I’m hopeful that it will be in the middle of next year as a target date for opening.”
There has been frustration over the long-term lack of available public toilets in Wick, with community council chairperson Joanna Coghill declaring during the summer: "For the size of this town, this is no longer acceptable."
Councillor Bremner had previously said, at a meeting of Wick's community council in November, that Highland Council is "never" going to give £350,000 for the buildings and that he was looking into other "potential funding sources that could reduce the cost to the local authority by around £140,000".
He had also said: “I'm looking for letters of support from various organisations – the local community council, the chamber of commerce, tourism organisations – to boost the case why we need this."
It is not known at present if the councillor has succeeded in raising the extra funds for the refurbishment
The Whitechapel Road conveniences were closed early in 2020 after being targeted in a series of acts of vandalism.