Ex-public toilets in Ewell Village to become one-bedroom maisonettes?
The Epsom Guardian's impression of the artist's impression of the developed public toilets in Ewell Village
How many homes can you cram onto the site of one tiny ex-public toilet? Two, according to Epsom Council which has given approval, in principle, for two one bedroom maisonettes to be built on the site of Ewell Village's old toliets which measure just 0.019 acres.
The toilets, opposite Bourne Hall, were auctioned off by the cash-strapped council in May for £68,000 to howls of outrage from residents.
Now they have been sold to a mystery buyer for over £80,000 with planning permission.
They had been due to go under the hammer on Monday with Andrews and Robertson auctioneers - but the company said a "pre-auction offer by a private individual had been accepted before the auction for in excess of £80,000".
Information about plans for the toilets and an artist’s impression, available on the auctioneers’ website, shows the council has agreed, in principle, for residential development to take place on the site.
It states: "Formal planning advice has been received from Epsom and Ewell Council, who have confirmed that, in principle, residential development consisting of two one-bedroom maisonettes could be approved on this site, provided the design mitigates against impacts on neighbours and nearby existing trees."
It described the plot as a"freehold site with development potential" saying it is well-served by public transport, shopping and recreation.
With a bus stop right outside there is no doubt that anyone moving into the micro-homes would find it easy to get away.
Privacy may, however, be an issue - and the proposed wall along the front of the two maisonettes, while partially screening them from prying eyes, may lead people needing a toilet to assume that women should use the left entrance and men the right one.
Pat Thomas, 68, who lives in Ewell Village, said she was "absolutely shocked" by the potential development and reiterated her views that selling-off the toilets has been "degrading to the elderly population".
She said: "I’m absolutely stunned and horrified they will be developed. They are putting profit before thinking of the benefits to the general public of reinstating the toilets.
"It wouldn’t have cost much to reinstate them - the council could have used the council tax generated by all the new developments going on in Epsom.
"It’s such an important pick-up point for day-trips and developing the toilets is not considering the basic needs of citizens. It’s embarrassing and degrading."
The facilities were closed in April 2010, along with those in Stoneleigh Broadway and the Upper High Street car park, allowing the council to save £21,000 a year in maintenance costs.
Ewell councillor Clive Woobridge was surprised at the suggestion that the toilets would be developed into housing, saying there “wasn’t enough space or scope for residential accommodation”.
After viewing the auctioneer’s information, he said: “No planning application has yet been received by the council. It’s a very compact site and that presents a number of challenges to any developer.
“While the council has indicated that, in principle, there’s no reason why a small residential development couldn’t take place, that outcome is not inevitable.
"There’s a lot the developer would have to do to make it acceptable to planning requirements.
"But I would rather something was done with the building if someone came up with a scheme which ticks all the boxes.”