By Jeremy Sollars
A stink may be brewing over a plan by the Southern Downs Regional Council to demolish the public toilets behind the Warwick Town Hall.
The council released a statement in late April, saying the toilet block has been the subject of recent vandalism, as well as complaints about its aesthetics, condition and maintenance and concerns over safety.
The statement also said the toilet block doesn’t meet “best practice standards in accordance with Crime Prevention through Environmental Design strategies” and can’t be locked at night, making it “a prime target for crime and vandalism”.
“This facility is not heritage listed, and in fact the Warwick Town Hall Conservation Management Plan states that the brick toilets have no cultural heritage significance and can be removed, replaced or renovated as required,” the statement said.
“Furthermore, the toilet facilities are not compliant for people with disabilities, and an asset condition inspection undertaken in 2014 suggested that the estimated remaining useful life of this building was five years, particularly due to signs of old age and increasing maintenance requirements.”
The council says giving the toilet block the heave-ho would create three more spaces in the already-congested Town Hall carpark.
But the Southern Downs RANGE resident’s action group believes that even though it’s a toilet block the building is part of the Town Hall and does have heritage significance.
While the council is unsure when the toilets were built, it has suggested the materials and construction suggest the 1960s.
But RANGE chairman Peter Kemp believes they could date back to the 1930s ‘Art Deco’ period and that they have the potential to be a quirky tourist attraction – and he’s adamant he’s not yanking anyone’s chain.
“If they were put back to their original state – with proper chain flushing and so on – it would be something that tourists would make a point of using,” he told the Free Times.
“The toilets are part of Warwick’s history and we’ve already lost too much of that over the years.”
Mr Kemp said he understood the structure was also used in past eras as a facility for euthanizing stray dogs using gas.
The Free Times inspected the toilets last week – well, the male section anyway – and they presented as clean, well-maintained and graffiti- and damage-free.
In fact, they’re some of the better public conveniences we’ve visited over the years – and let’s face they’re built like a … well, they’re solidly built.
Public consultation conducted by the council finished last Friday 12 May and the Free Times is seeking comment about the results.
* What do you think? Should the toilets stay or go? Write a letter to the editor or comment on our Facebook page …