The Chairman commented on the transformation of Sugar Quay which was now a well-used public space. He compared this to Custom House, narrow pathway along the north bank which was difficult to access and often flooded. He asked for the Committee’s view to write to the current owners to ask them to remove their railings as the security reasons for having them no longer existed as the building was empty. If the railings were removed it would open up the quay side and allow the public safe access to walk on the north bank. A Member commented that planks on the Broadwalk needed to be repaired. She also stated that there were a number of lights that did not work by Blackwater Passage and asked Officers to address this. Another Member commented that the letter should be clear that this did not affect any planning decision. Members supported a letter being written to the owners of Custom House.
Resolution from Port Health and Environmental Services Committee
The Chairman stated that the Committee had received a resolution from the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee. The wording was as follows:
The Port Health & Environmental Service Committee request the Planning Committee seek, wherever possible, the provision, as part of major new developments, of public and accessible toilets. Officers should also investigate the possibility of ensuring that major hospitality and retail developments have a requirement to provide publicly accessible toilet facilities as part of their planning obligations.
An Officer stated that the City Plan 2040 would recognise the need for new development to play a part in providing public toilet provision in the City particularly to help realise Destination City ambitions. The Officer stated that Policy HL 7 of the plan would require public toilets in major retail, leisure and transport developments, particularly near visitor attractions, open spaces and existing major transport interchanges. The policy required them to be available 24 hours a day and it also sought the incorporation of further additional public toilets in proposed developments. The Officer stated that the policy as it was currently drafted had been amended to specifically state that this could be in hotel and office schemes and in locations likely to see significant footfall and visitors. A Member who was the Chairman of the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee stated that this was encouraging.
A Member asked whether it would be possible to include publicly accessible toilet provision as part of the negotiations with the applicant of the development granted planning permission at the Planning Sub-Committee meeting on 20 November 2023 as this site was close to a station and other facilities. Officers stated they would discuss this with the applicant.
A Member requested that the City Plan policy be amended to require visible signage indicating the presence of a publicly accessible toilet. In response to a question about the threshold size for a major scheme, an Officer stated that a major scheme was generally over 1000 square metres of floor space, although there were other categories. He stated that there were policies in the adopted local plan and work was taking place to improve and refine this.A Member commented that regardless of the size of a development, applicants should be encouraged to make toilets accessible to the public.