A SHARP rise in the number of visitors to Oxford’s historic Town Hall has led to plans to extensively refurbish the building’s toilets.

Oxford City Council has said more people visit the building in St Aldate’s to see its museum, shop and café.

But this, the authority has said, has put pressure on its ground floor toilets which are set to be given a major overhaul.

City council officer Sarah Billam says the proposed redevelopment will help overcome this.

Last year the Museum of Oxford moved into the town hall lobby from its Blue Boar Street location and was fully revamped, bringing in thousands of visitors.

Ms Billam said: “There has been an increase in the number of people using these facilities since they were last refurbished in 2005.

“This has been due in part from the closure of other public facilities in the city and the increased in the number of visitors to the town hall to visit the museum and shop and town hall café and attending large public and private functions at the Town Hall.

“The current toilets are also looking tired and are in need of refurbishment. The works will increase female toilets from 11 to 16 cubicles and from six to 16 wash basins.

“The gents will increase from 10 to 11 urinals, three to five cubicles and six to 12 wash basins.

“The new wall tiling, white ceiling tiles and flooring will refresh and brighten the facilities.

“The new ventilation system will provide fresh air to the toilets and improve air quality for users.”

Twentieth century partitions will be knocked through to make the size of both toilets bigger and the council is proposing to knock through into the Keeper’s Room, which is next to the men’s toilets.

Original features such as the windows in the men’s toilet will be kept, as will the 19th century two-panelled door to the Keeper’s Room which will be removed and reused.

Oxford’s Town Hall was officially opened by HRH the Prince of Wales – the later Edward VII – in 1897 and is Grade II*-listed.

To allow the project to go ahead, the city council has applied for listed building consent.

English Heritage’s principal inspector of historic buildings and areas David Brock said the body has no objection to the scheme.

A final decision on whether the scheme can go ahead will be made by the west area planning committee at a public meeting on Tuesday, January 7.

City council planning officers have recommended that it should go ahead.