Report of the Superintendent of Hampstead Heath.
Members considered a report of the Superintendent of Hampstead Heath concerning the Queen’s Park Public Toilet Redevelopment. The following comments were made:
· The Chairman stated that this matter had been ongoing for over a year and Members of the QPCG were keen to progress with the project. There were two options available to Members: Option 1a which set out a proposal for refurbishment of the toilet unit and Option 2a which proposed a new build toilet unit.
· The Chairman advised that the QPCG were strongly in favour of Option 2a as they felt that it would be a better investment long-term.
· Members were very concerned by the cost difference between Options 1a and 2a and questioned the need for a new build. A Member noted that Option 2a incurred an added cost of £168k plus surveys/surveyor’s costs which would mean an additional cost of over £200k.
· It was noted that the number of people using the Park was increasing and the current toilets were not up to standard. It was also highlighted that the new build would allow access from the children’s play area which was not currently available.
· A Member suggested a variation to Option 1a to bring in access from the children’s play area instead of creating a new build. The Chairman explained that the original intention had been to repair and redecorate the toilets; however, discovery of cracks in the structure resulted in Officers having to reassess what was required.
· Members were advised that a Member at QPCG had raised a concern over accessibility for disabled users and it was agreed that a new structure could make improvements making the unit fit for purpose for all.
· Members discussed exploring the potential for Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money from the London Borough of Brent which would assist with the cost of the project (either Option 1a or 2a). Members were not confident that the funding would be significant enough to fund Option 2a and it was noted that the additional criteria needed to make the facility acceptable for CIL funding would make the project more expensive.
· Members were advised that there were a number of large Open Spaces schemes that required funding which would be prioritised by essential need.
· A Member noted that the cracks in the structure had been caused by a nearby tree which had now been removed. He felt that if the structure was now considered sound by surveyors, then Option 1a was the most suitable in terms of costs and longevity of the works.
· In response to queries regarding the life span of the options, the Constabulary & Queen’s Park Manager advised that surveyors had not provided lifespans despite the requests from Officers. It was agreed that details concerning the quality and lifespan of the options were needed in order to make a decision on the meaningful benefit of the proposals.
· It was added that Brent Council had closed all of its public toilets in the area.
· With regards to comments concerning how eco-friendly the plans were, Members were advised that Officers were looking into the most sustainable options for either proposal.
· It was noted that Option 2a was not on a like-for-like basis to the original unit. Member questioned whether the larger facility was necessary as this had cost implications.
· A Member stated that whilst the toilet unit was considered unappealing in aesthetics, it did serve its purpose. Members voiced concern that as the toilets were a frontline service, there was a PR impact of them not being fit for purpose.
· The Chairman asked the Committee to vote on the two proposed options:
Option 1a – 4 Members
Option 2a – 7 Members
· As the majority of Members agreed with Option 2a, the Chairman approved this decision. However, it was noted that four Members were strongly against this decision and felt that Option 1a would struggle to be approved by the Projects Sub-Committee.
RESOLVED – Members approved the recommendation for option 2a to be value engineered and agree that Officers develop a Capital Project to enter the Gateway Approval Process.