City centre property is not your bog-standard buy

Oxford Mail: The former public toilets in St Giles The former public toilets in St Giles

IT could be a desirable residence with the help of an interior designer and a generous spray of air freshener.

Oxford city centre is known for its magnificent buildings but the city council is hoping to attract interest in a more bog-standard proposition – the former public toilets in St Giles.

The loos have now been put up for lease, seven years after they were shut down.

Oxford City Council closed the toilets after health and safety concerns about caught-short pedestrians crossing a busy road.

Now the authority is saying the toilets, which opened in 1895, could be brought back into use – for a guide price of £65,000.

And the city council’s toilet chief says the loos, a short distance from the Randolph Hotel and Ashmolean Museum, could even be used as a home.

City councillor John Tanner, executive board member for cleaner, greener Oxford, said: “They are lovely toilets but they are just in the wrong place and out of date. The traffic in St Giles is very busy.

“They could make a lovely shop, or a store, or even a home for somebody.

“Homes are very much in short supply in Oxford. I hope somebody will have the imagination and courage to make use of them.”

Related links

The 119-year-old loos, which along with the Magdalen Street East toilets are the city’s only underground WC facilities, boasted many original features such as copper piping, brass- plated stair rails and black and white mosaic floor tiling.

By the 1980s the toilets had deteriorated with rainwater seeping in and damp penetrating the underground walls. They underwent a £47,000 renovation in 1985 during which concrete skylights were also installed.

The council is offering people the chance to take on a 125-year lease of the facilities, which cover an area of 47 square metres.

Martin Conway is an estate agent for Marriotts, which is managing the lease of the toilets for the council.

He said: “We are putting it on the market with a view to seeing what materialises in terms of interest. There might be an interesting range of ideas about what the toilets can be used for.”

He said the loos would probably be stripped out and could be used for an office or studio.

Marriotts says any use of the toilets would have to be “low intensity” without a heavy stream of visitors because of the site’s location in the middle of a road and that the historic cast iron railings around the entrance would have to be kept.

City council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “We have been approached by a number of parties interested in purchasing the property, which is currently unused apart from a small area for storage.

“The toilets were closed to the public some years ago due to antisocial behaviour, safety issues and disability access.

“We felt an open marketing campaign was the best way to ensure any interested parties have an opportunity to express interest. Any purchaser wishing to change the use may require planning consent.”

But Bob Urwin, owner of Martin & Co estate agents, said it might not be realistic to turn the toilets into a home.

He said: “There is no light. The power and water supply is there but it would never get planning permission for residential use.

“It is a good location in the city centre so I would think a cafe or a bar would be a good use.”

Comments (9)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:01am Fri 28 Feb 14

oxchris says...

Closed due to safety fears? Has anybody actually been hit by a car while trying to get to these toilets? Best close all premises that are near a road then. Oxford has very few public toilets and the ideal use for this 'property' would be to reopen it as public conveniences again.
Closed due to safety fears? Has anybody actually been hit by a car while trying to get to these toilets? Best close all premises that are near a road then. Oxford has very few public toilets and the ideal use for this 'property' would be to reopen it as public conveniences again. oxchris

8:46am Fri 28 Feb 14

Myron Blatz says...

More 'effluent' from Cllr 'toilets' Tanner in the run-up to City Council elections in which Labour is desperate to try and hold-on to its majority? If the toilets in St Giles (closed as part of a previous City Council cull on public service provision across Oxford) are 'not fit for purpose' under Health & Safety (H&S) reasons, then how can they be perfectly fit-for-purpose as either a dwelling, or shop/retail outlet - doesn't Cllr Tanner or his Labour pals ever think, before they say or do anything on behalf of the income tax, VAT payers, Coumcil Tax payers and Voters in Oxford? Or, could this be yet another case of H&S and City Planning (who prove they are 'human' by getting it wrong so often?) only applying to things which Councillors don't want to be liable and responsible for? Nor did Cllr Tanner mention the other reason for closing down public toilets - not having to pay for either 'toilet attendants' or, in more recent years, even the team of mobile toilet cleaners who are supposed to keep such establishments street-legal under H&S and hygiene requirements. And all the money which City Council saves? Presumably to support the fixed allowances paid to City Councillors and their very variable 'expenses' for doing all this public service work, and for paying City Council workers more than the Minimum Wage which the previous Labour government pit in-place!
More 'effluent' from Cllr 'toilets' Tanner in the run-up to City Council elections in which Labour is desperate to try and hold-on to its majority? If the toilets in St Giles (closed as part of a previous City Council cull on public service provision across Oxford) are 'not fit for purpose' under Health & Safety (H&S) reasons, then how can they be perfectly fit-for-purpose as either a dwelling, or shop/retail outlet - doesn't Cllr Tanner or his Labour pals ever think, before they say or do anything on behalf of the income tax, VAT payers, Coumcil Tax payers and Voters in Oxford? Or, could this be yet another case of H&S and City Planning (who prove they are 'human' by getting it wrong so often?) only applying to things which Councillors don't want to be liable and responsible for? Nor did Cllr Tanner mention the other reason for closing down public toilets - not having to pay for either 'toilet attendants' or, in more recent years, even the team of mobile toilet cleaners who are supposed to keep such establishments street-legal under H&S and hygiene requirements. And all the money which City Council saves? Presumably to support the fixed allowances paid to City Councillors and their very variable 'expenses' for doing all this public service work, and for paying City Council workers more than the Minimum Wage which the previous Labour government pit in-place! Myron Blatz

9:35am Fri 28 Feb 14

Oxonian says...

These toilets need never have been closed. There is no danger to pedestrians crossing the road, as there is a crossing nearby controlled by traffic lights where people can cross in safety.
These toilets need never have been closed. There is no danger to pedestrians crossing the road, as there is a crossing nearby controlled by traffic lights where people can cross in safety. Oxonian

9:50am Fri 28 Feb 14

jimm says...

Myron Blatz wrote:
More 'effluent' from Cllr 'toilets' Tanner in the run-up to City Council elections in which Labour is desperate to try and hold-on to its majority? If the toilets in St Giles (closed as part of a previous City Council cull on public service provision across Oxford) are 'not fit for purpose' under Health & Safety (H&S) reasons, then how can they be perfectly fit-for-purpose as either a dwelling, or shop/retail outlet - doesn't Cllr Tanner or his Labour pals ever think, before they say or do anything on behalf of the income tax, VAT payers, Coumcil Tax payers and Voters in Oxford? Or, could this be yet another case of H&S and City Planning (who prove they are 'human' by getting it wrong so often?) only applying to things which Councillors don't want to be liable and responsible for? Nor did Cllr Tanner mention the other reason for closing down public toilets - not having to pay for either 'toilet attendants' or, in more recent years, even the team of mobile toilet cleaners who are supposed to keep such establishments street-legal under H&S and hygiene requirements. And all the money which City Council saves? Presumably to support the fixed allowances paid to City Councillors and their very variable 'expenses' for doing all this public service work, and for paying City Council workers more than the Minimum Wage which the previous Labour government pit in-place!
More effluent from you. The cuts in Government funding to the city and county councils - and councils all over the country - are well known. You are deluded if you think the sums paid in allowances to councillors would make up for those cuts. Or should we just go back to the time when only the rich or retired could afford the time to be councillors?

Instead of inflicting yet more ranting on the rest of us from your keyboard, why not come out from behind it and stand for election in May, since you appear to know so much more about how to run things and manage massive budget cuts than all of this county's politicians, from whatever party. Not, of course, that you will.
[quote][p][bold]Myron Blatz[/bold] wrote: More 'effluent' from Cllr 'toilets' Tanner in the run-up to City Council elections in which Labour is desperate to try and hold-on to its majority? If the toilets in St Giles (closed as part of a previous City Council cull on public service provision across Oxford) are 'not fit for purpose' under Health & Safety (H&S) reasons, then how can they be perfectly fit-for-purpose as either a dwelling, or shop/retail outlet - doesn't Cllr Tanner or his Labour pals ever think, before they say or do anything on behalf of the income tax, VAT payers, Coumcil Tax payers and Voters in Oxford? Or, could this be yet another case of H&S and City Planning (who prove they are 'human' by getting it wrong so often?) only applying to things which Councillors don't want to be liable and responsible for? Nor did Cllr Tanner mention the other reason for closing down public toilets - not having to pay for either 'toilet attendants' or, in more recent years, even the team of mobile toilet cleaners who are supposed to keep such establishments street-legal under H&S and hygiene requirements. And all the money which City Council saves? Presumably to support the fixed allowances paid to City Councillors and their very variable 'expenses' for doing all this public service work, and for paying City Council workers more than the Minimum Wage which the previous Labour government pit in-place![/p][/quote]More effluent from you. The cuts in Government funding to the city and county councils - and councils all over the country - are well known. You are deluded if you think the sums paid in allowances to councillors would make up for those cuts. Or should we just go back to the time when only the rich or retired could afford the time to be councillors? Instead of inflicting yet more ranting on the rest of us from your keyboard, why not come out from behind it and stand for election in May, since you appear to know so much more about how to run things and manage massive budget cuts than all of this county's politicians, from whatever party. Not, of course, that you will. jimm

10:06am Fri 28 Feb 14

Dilligaf2010 says...

So let me get this straight, these toilets were closed because of fears about people crossing the road to use them, but there would be no safety fears about people crossing the same road, if they were converted into a shop?
So let me get this straight, these toilets were closed because of fears about people crossing the road to use them, but there would be no safety fears about people crossing the same road, if they were converted into a shop? Dilligaf2010

10:58am Fri 28 Feb 14

colbart says...

There were several 'explanations' why they were closed. The leaks in the roof, where they were sited, the constant backing up of the toilets, (being underground could have installed pumps), The DDA (Disabled persons Access). Then when they did close them the Museum was undergoing major refit. (Coincidence?). Gives a whole new meaning to the word 'Cottage'.
There were several 'explanations' why they were closed. The leaks in the roof, where they were sited, the constant backing up of the toilets, (being underground could have installed pumps), The DDA (Disabled persons Access). Then when they did close them the Museum was undergoing major refit. (Coincidence?). Gives a whole new meaning to the word 'Cottage'. colbart

11:04am Fri 28 Feb 14

mytaxes says...

What an excuse,Health and Safety, farcical, just like our council. No doubt they will sell it and waste the money just likes the books, flowers etc., for the other wonderful toilets Mr. Tanner is responsible for.
What an excuse,Health and Safety, farcical, just like our council. No doubt they will sell it and waste the money just likes the books, flowers etc., for the other wonderful toilets Mr. Tanner is responsible for. mytaxes

4:41pm Fri 28 Feb 14

bart-on simpson says...

An ideal location to be refitted as the Tony Blair Exhibition. Expect a bid from Cherie anytime soon...
An ideal location to be refitted as the Tony Blair Exhibition. Expect a bid from Cherie anytime soon... bart-on simpson

1:47pm Tue 18 Mar 14

cuckoo says...

Dilligaf2010 wrote:
So let me get this straight, these toilets were closed because of fears about people crossing the road to use them, but there would be no safety fears about people crossing the same road, if they were converted into a shop?
................or even a licensed premise/bar!!
[quote][p][bold]Dilligaf2010[/bold] wrote: So let me get this straight, these toilets were closed because of fears about people crossing the road to use them, but there would be no safety fears about people crossing the same road, if they were converted into a shop?[/p][/quote]................or even a licensed premise/bar!! cuckoo

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree