Public toilets could be transformed into cafes, wine bars

Original urinals and cisterns in Attendant, a London cafe and sandwich bar in a former public toilet. Picture: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Image
Original urinals and cisterns in Attendant, a London cafe and sandwich bar in a former public toilet. Picture: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Image
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TEN public toilets which were closed to save £300,000 are to be sold off, the Evening News has learned.

Property experts said large, prominently located conveniences could fetch up to £200,000 on the open market.

Confirmation of the sale has raised the prospect of loos being converted into homes, cafes, restaurants and wine bars.

Toilets at Ardmillan, Canaan Lane, Canonmills, Currie, Granton Square, Joppa, Juniper Green, London Road, St John’s Road and Tollcross have all been axed as part of the city council’s cost-cutting drive.

Market prices will vary according to size and where facilities are situated.

Experts today said the council could expect to net a significant sum.

David Alexander, of estate agents DJ Alexander, said: “The Earthy Cafe in Canonmills as it stands would have been worth maybe half a million pounds, I’d have thought.

“So I think the toilet in Canonmills would be worth anything up to around £200,000. That would not surprise me at all.

“What the toilets will fetch really depends on the size and location. There’s a limit to what you can do with them as many are stand-alone, so you’re restricted in what you can do planning-wise.

“Will they be popular? I’m sure they will be. If they’re lying there empty then I think it would be sensible to bring them back into use, as a nice cafe or wine bar. It’s a good idea.”

Earlier this year, a convenience at Mayburn Court in Stromness, Orkney, was placed on the market for offers over £5000. Another loo in London’s trendy Spitalfields district was put up for sale with a £1 million price tag.

Among the more daring toilet transformations is Attendant, a convenience in central London that has been converted into a coffee shop and sandwich bar complete with original urinals and cisterns.

David Bell, owner of Haddington-based DMB Property Consultants, said the toilets could be suitable for residential and commercial use. “I think it’s a good thing they could be brought back,” he added. “It gives people the opportunity to come up with an idea, as you had with the city’s police boxes.”

But Liz Summerfield, of Tollcross community council, said it had been a “huge mistake” to close the public toilet there.

She said: “The area is so busy, especially at night, and residents are fed up with people going into their stairs and gardens.

“There are also a lot of parents with young children who are upset about the lack of toilets.”

And she was less than impressed with the idea of converting loos into restaurants.

“I don’t think turning a public lavatory into an eating place is the best idea,” she said.

“If people knew what it had been, would they really want to go?”

City leaders confirmed the toilets would be sold.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, environment leader, said: “We can confirm that we have recently closed several public toilet buildings and these will be put on the open market in the next couple of months.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com