Toilet to café plan goes down the pan

PUBLISHED: 15:47 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:22 31 May 2010

A MAN who spent £37,000 on a public toilet block in Sawston is frustrated that his plans to turn it into a café have been thwarted by councillors. Peter Boutell, a lifelong Sawston man, bought the four cubicles, in an auction in September last year, with

A MAN who spent £37,000 on a public toilet block in Sawston is frustrated that his plans to turn it into a café have been thwarted by councillors.

Peter Boutell, a lifelong Sawston man, bought the four cubicles, in an auction in September last year, with plans to turn the dilapidated building into an attractive village-centre café.

However, his proposal has been recommended for refusal by Sawston Parish Council and refused planning permission by South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC).

Mr Boutell said: "This is pretty frustrating - I'm trying to convert this flat-roofed toilet building into an attractive café, which would fit in better with the surrounding area than it did originally anyway, and I'm not being allowed to do so."

Margaret Badcock, Sawston Parish Council clerk, explained why the council had voted against the plans.

"The council feels that the toilet building, on the junction between Link Road and the High Street, is not a suitable place to have outside coffee tables," she said.

"There are a number of road safety concerns, as it's a dangerous corner.

"If an application was made to convert the building for some other use which didn't involve seating near to the road, I can't see the parish council having a problem with it."

The parish council decided to sell the toilet after it was faced with paying £40,000 to refurbish them to an acceptable standard.

The facility had been closed for 18 months prior to its sale.

A number of reasons were cited in SCDC's planning permission refusal for the conversion of the toilet building, including the increased height and massing of the building, together with its proximity to the northern boundary.

Mr Bouttell, who has spent thousands of pounds removing the interior of the toilet building and having an architect draw up plans, now plans to approach a planning officer at SCDC to see what they would be happy to approve. He now hopes to turn it into a small office.

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