Major review of public toilet provision to be launched in East Devon

18-05-21- The public toilets at the Triangle in Sidmouth- LDRS
The public toilets at the Triangle in Sidmouth Credit: LDRS

A major review of East Devon’s public toilet provision is set to be launched which could ultimately see the closure of some loos.

More than six years after a review of the toilets run by East Devon District Council was first discussed, councillors have unanimously agreed to launch the consultation over the public toilet service in the district.

Councillors were told that the continued provision at the current level is no longer sustainable, with the review seeking to balance savings requirements with protecting a level of toilet provision.

It comes as the provision is not a service the council is required to provide, and with them facing a £3m budget gap, the review aims to reduce the costs of providing the service, review the ways in which it is provided and in particular in locations where demand is less or alternative facilities exist.

All of the council-run toilets have been provisionally split into three categories. Category A, where they will be maintained and investment made to bring them up to standard.

Category B, where they will look to consider a different offer such as a café, to include a publicly accessible toilet. And Category C, where there would be no alternative and would be offered to town and parish councils to run, but if they turned down the chance, they would be closed.

Cllr Geoff Jung, portfolio holder for the environment, said: “Most of our public conveniences were built in the 1950s and the plumbing and structures are not as they were."

The proposed categorisation of the toilets run by East Devon


  • West Street Car Park, Axminster

  • Cliff Path, Budleigh Salterton

  • East End, Budleigh Salterton

  • Jubilee Gardens, Beer

  • Foxholes Car Park, Exmouth

  • Magnolia Centre, Exmouth

  • Manor Gardens, Exmouth

  • Phear Park, Exmouth

  • Queens Drive, Exmouth

  • Lace Walk, Honiton

  • West Walk, Seaton

  • Connaught Gardens, Sidmouth

  • Triangle, Sidmouth

  • Market Place or Port Royal, Sidmouth


  • Station Road, Budleigh Salterton

  • Imperial Recreation Ground, Exmouth

  • Orcombe Point, Exmouth

  • The Maer, Exmouth

  • Harbour Road, Seaton

  • Seaton Hole, Seaton

  • Market Place or Port Royal, Sidmouth


  • Brook Road, Budleigh Salterton

  • Dolphin Street, Colyton

  • Exmouth Bus Station, Exmouth

  • Jarvis Close, Exmouth

  • King Street Car Park, Honiton

  • Marsh Road, Seaton

In his report to the cabinet, Andrew Hancock, service lead for StreetScene, said: “The review proposes to invest in toilets that are retained to ensure the right toilet in the right place, this is important since no capital investment has been made for a number of years. Many of the sites need updating to meet modern standards and expectations as well as incorporating Covid secure/improved hygiene design features.

“The overall objective of the council should be to provide high quality, modern facilities that are mainly located in town centres, tourist areas and parks which help support these areas. The council should look at other means of operating toilets and be concerned with overall levels of provision, but not necessarily direct provision in all cases."

“This review is looking to ensure East Devon continues to provide high quality public toilets in a sustainable way, but also recognising in some situations other methods of provision might be appropriate, indeed beneficial to the public, particularly where there are multiple toilet blocks or toilets are less well used and some sites could add a café, bar or other commercial offer.”

However, Cllr Cathy Gardner said that she was concerned about any charging for toilets as charging reduces their use, and the local authority should do all they can to avoid it.

The review will also determine whether to install contactless paid access on retained toilets to allow for a future income and improve toilet standards.

It will also see them agree to consult with all stakeholders to obtain their views of these proposals in order to gain understanding/agreement that public toilets need investment to modernise them, whether to investigate charging for their use to protect future provision, and to provide a concessionary card for those with medical needs.

Prior to any decision being made, the cabinet also asked the Overview Committee to review the consultation responses and equalities assessment and provide its views, with Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of the council, saying that this was the time for concerns around the individual toilets mentioned in the review to be raised, rather than at last week’s meeting.

Credit: Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporting Service

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