Popular Saffron Walden tourist attraction to get new toilets

PLANS to improve facilities at one of Saffron Walden’s most popular tourist attractions have been approved.

Bridge End Garden has been described as the “jewel in the crown” of Saffron Walden, attracting thousands of visitors a year.

But the toilet block – in an old war-time shelter – has not been renovated since the 1970s and is well past its sell by date. Saffron Walden Town Council and the Friends of Bridge End Garden have been working to update it, while adding significant improvements.

An application to demolish the block and replace it with a new building to include toilets, a staff room and a volunteers room, has been given the thumbs up by Uttlesford District Council.

Terry Frostick, operations manager for the council, said: “Bridge End Garden is the jewel in the crown of Saffron Walden. It has won numerous awards. But to continue winning high quality awards the toilets need to be improved.

“So we thought, while we’re improving the toilets, why not give the staff a base to work from and the volunteers a focal point where they can meet and have lunch.

“It will not only make it a more pleasant experience for visitors, but it will make the volunteer experience at Bridge End Garden a happy and fulfilling one.”

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More than 20 volunteers attend the monthly session at the garden, carrying out jobs such as trimming the hedges and rose bushes, to supplement the work of the two full time gardeners.

John Bagley, secretary of the Friends of Bridge End Garden, which organises the volunter days, said: “A lot of people come to the town and visit the gardens, which are superb and really reflect the Victorian era. But the toilets let it down. Getting this new building would be the trimming on what is an important facility in the town.”

Designed by retired architect John Ricketts, the building will be “in-keeping with the Victorian image”, said Mr Bagley. It is expected to cost tens of thousands of pounds to build, and the search is on for grants to fund the project.

Any businesses eager to get involved can call Terry Frostick on 01799 516504.