What is the history behind the proposals?
In 2005, Mid Sussex District Council decided to demolish and remove the Public Toilets positioned alongside the Bowling Green on Lindfield Common. This was because of cost constraints and the toilet block deteriorating. A similar decision was made to close six other toilet facilities within the Mid Sussex area.
At the time, Lindfield Parish Council, was offered the chance to take on responsibility to run and refurbish the Public Toilets at Denmans Lane neat the Co-Op, and we have run these successfully with few problems since 2006.
The need for re-instatement was highlighted as a priority in the Lindfield Village Action Plan 2006.
This was further reinforced by a poll conducted by Lindfield Parish Council in 2010, asking all village residents if they were in favour of new toilets being constructed on Lindfield Common. The poll showed that 90% of respondents agreed that the Parish Council should work towards the provision of public toilets.
How was the site selected?
A Lindfield Parish Council Working Group was set up in 2011 to explore whether and how the reinstatement of the toilet facilities on the Common might be achieved. A number of issues were considered:
- Access for maintenance and cleaning
- Proximity to main areas of activity
- Road crossing from main Common area
- Proximity to and impact on neighbours
- Risk of anti-social behaviour/vandalism
- Road proximity for police and general public surveillance
- Aesthetic effect
- Minimise existing tree disturbance
- Proximity to main services
- Parking for passing users
What are the legal processes?
Lindfield Common is, as it sounds, designated as Common Land which means that it is subject to significant building and planning restrictions.
Any planning application would have to be approved not just by the local planning authority (Mid Sussex District Council) but also by the independent Planning Inspectorate which is an executive agency of the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Mid Sussex District Council, who are legally responsible for the Common and its management, have therefore been consulted about the design and location of the proposed toilets.
The proposals are subject to the formal planning process and no agreement or approval has been given.
How did you come up with the design and site?
We have employed professional architects to draw up the plans. It is proposed that the toilets will look similar to the ones in Denman Lane. Features include:
- Unisex toilets with baby changing (as per Denmans Lane toilets)
- External design in keeping with Lindfield Common surroundings
- Security lighting
- Clear sightlines around the building
- Opening time from dawn till dusk
- Automatic remote locking (as per Denmans toilets) at dusk
- Vandal-resistant fittings
- Daily cleaning
The site chosen best meeting all criteria was the original site adjacent to the Bowls Club and South of the Car Park, but close to the road.
The Council is a member of the British Toilet Association we will continue to seek advice from them as and when required.
How much would it cost?
Design, legal and build costs for proposed toilets are estimated to be £180,000
These costs will be met in 3 ways:
- £85,000.00 - Corporate Grant, from S106 monies, which have been paid by developers of new housing estates (for example the Limes) to benefit local projects. To access this money a successful Corporate Grant application will need to be made to Mid Sussex District Council.
- £84,000.00 Capital monies from the sale of Denmans Lane Parish Office.
- Monies set aside by Lindfield Parish Council.
Annual running costs including daily cleaning (three times a day) maintenance, Council rates and Water Rates based on existing costs to run Denmans Lane toilets £13,000.00. This cost will be met out of the annual Parish Council precept, which is part of the Mid Sussex District Council tax levied on all Parish householders.
What happens next?
The Parish Council will carefully consider the consultation responses. Subject to the responses received, the Council will make formal planning application to Mid Sussex District Council later in 2018. We hope that if approved, the Planning Inspectorate and central Government processes would be completed during 2019 and if agreed, building would start in 2020. We will also make an application to Mid Sussex District Council for a Facility Grant in order to obtain funding.