Hotelier is aiming to turn loos into offices

The St Giles’ toilets

The St Giles’ toilets

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

HISTORIC toilets in the centre of Oxford could soon be turned into plush new office space.

Plans for the St Giles toilets have been submitted to Oxford City Council by city hotelier Gwyn Harries-Jones after he won a tender to lease the undergound conveniences.

He wants to turn the toilets, which opened in 1895, into an office for up to 11 people after entering leasing the facilities from the city council. The toilets will remain unchanged from the outside, except for a glass lobby over the entrance.

A statement from Mr Harries-Jones, who runs the Galaxie Hotel in Banbury Road, said: “These will both secure the building but also provide additional light into the underground space as well as minimising the impact of the proposals on the surrounding area.’’ The 116-year-old loos, which along with the Magdalen Street East toilets are the city’s only underground facilities, boasted many original features such as copper piping, brass-plated stair rails and black and white mosaic floor tiling.

They were closed in 2008 and city council officials said they would never reopen because of health and safety fears associated with them being in the middle of a busy road. In Feburary the city council put them up for lease at a guide price of £65,000 .

But Peter Thompson, the chairman of Oxford Civic Society, said the city council should not make any short term decisions about the toilets. He pointed out his group, as well as the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, is keen to pedestrianise St Giles.

Mr Thompson said: “On the face of it I don’t think in principle there is anything necessarily wrong with the plans but it is an incredibly sensitive location from many point of view, including the beauty of the urban environment.

City council spokesman Chris Lee said it had received a number of offers for the site and decided the proposal to turn it into offices was the best. A planning application has been submitted and will be considered in the near future.

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Comments (7)

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7:23pm Thu 19 Jun 14

BicesterBod says...

I thought the hospitality industry was going down the pan.
I thought the hospitality industry was going down the pan. BicesterBod
  • Score: 0

7:27pm Thu 19 Jun 14

The New Private Eye says...

Ok, so it is dangerous for people to cross the road to have a pee, but not to get to the proposed offices????? Why not tell us the truth Oxford City Council, which in my opinion is that keeping them as a much needed public convenience will cost you money, but selling them off provides much needed funds for your pensions. And you wonder why we all under declare to get H.B and Council Tax Benefit. Play fair with us, and we will do the same with you.
Ok, so it is dangerous for people to cross the road to have a pee, but not to get to the proposed offices????? Why not tell us the truth Oxford City Council, which in my opinion is that keeping them as a much needed public convenience will cost you money, but selling them off provides much needed funds for your pensions. And you wonder why we all under declare to get H.B and Council Tax Benefit. Play fair with us, and we will do the same with you. The New Private Eye
  • Score: 8

8:53pm Thu 19 Jun 14

mytaxes says...

We are getting less and less services whilst our council tax goes up and up. I guess everyone is so rich in Oxford that they are happy to keep voting for the same old councillors who treat the taxpayer with such contempt.
We are getting less and less services whilst our council tax goes up and up. I guess everyone is so rich in Oxford that they are happy to keep voting for the same old councillors who treat the taxpayer with such contempt. mytaxes
  • Score: 2

7:00am Fri 20 Jun 14

HomerSimpsonDoh says...

Will the City Council now admit they lied about the reasons why they closed these toilets? Explain what the H&S reasons were? Not one accident was reported about anyone get run over going to these toilets. Why is inow safe for office workers to cross this road? It's typical of this council to lie to us taxpayers and think they can get away with it. I call the council officers liars and corrupt, take me to court to defend yourself.
Will the City Council now admit they lied about the reasons why they closed these toilets? Explain what the H&S reasons were? Not one accident was reported about anyone get run over going to these toilets. Why is inow safe for office workers to cross this road? It's typical of this council to lie to us taxpayers and think they can get away with it. I call the council officers liars and corrupt, take me to court to defend yourself. HomerSimpsonDoh
  • Score: 3

8:21am Fri 20 Jun 14

Quentin Walker says...

"...But Peter Thompson, the chairman of Oxford Civic Society, said the city council should not make any short term decisions about the toilets. He pointed out his group, as well as the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, is keen to pedestrianise St Giles..." Pedestrianisation = no traffic = no H & S issue...
"...But Peter Thompson, the chairman of Oxford Civic Society, said the city council should not make any short term decisions about the toilets. He pointed out his group, as well as the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, is keen to pedestrianise St Giles..." Pedestrianisation = no traffic = no H & S issue... Quentin Walker
  • Score: 0

9:03am Fri 20 Jun 14

mytaxes says...

They treat us as idiots which is not surprising as people keep voting for them.
They treat us as idiots which is not surprising as people keep voting for them. mytaxes
  • Score: 1

12:54pm Fri 20 Jun 14

oafie says...

In the middle of a busy road..........what a crock of crap from the city council again!
If that is a valid reason
Oxon County Council should take note regarding their toilets at the Forest Hill Lay By? Public Sex environment-situated on the A40!
In the middle of a busy road..........what a crock of crap from the city council again! If that is a valid reason Oxon County Council should take note regarding their toilets at the Forest Hill Lay By? Public Sex environment-situated on the A40! oafie
  • Score: 0

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