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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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Council confirms plan to demolish Whitehaven town centre loos

Controversial plans to demolish Whitehaven’s only toilet block have been approved by Copeland councillors.

Whitehaven toilet block photo
The loos

It was a split decision by members of a planning meeting as five voted for the demolition and five voted against.

The casting vote was made by the chair of the planning panel Councillor Geoff Blackwell, who agreed with the recommendation to demolish the toilet block on James Street.

Following the decision, Mr Blackwell said: “We all have strong feelings but we are here as a planning committee. Unfortunately that is all we are allowed to look at in terms of legislation and law, that’s difficult at times- very difficult.”

Councillors who voted against the demolition harboured hopes that the toilet block on James Street could have reopened in the future.

John Jackson said the community was “gutted” when the public toilets closed.

He said: “If it had not shut then it [the planning permission for its demolition] wouldn’t be before this panel now.”

Councillors were told that they must only deal with planning issues and that permission is required for the site as it falls within a conservation area. Two letters of objection were also received by the council. Councillors were told that there is no chance that the building will be reopened and the closed building is still costing the council money in maintenance and rates.

Its removal will open up views and enhance the area, councillors were also told.

Copeland council has already closed the facility, amid public outcry, as part of a raft of budget cuts.

A 2,000-signature petition submitted to Copeland failed to overturn the decision.

It is proposed that the land be restored to a hard surface to match the surrounding paving, and will not form part of a highways improvement scheme.

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