City loo’s days numbered

Important to have toilets in that part of Gisborne

Important to have toilets in that part of Gisborne

Peel Street toilets

The Peel Street toilets will end their days in the next four years but the building will remain standing.

The 97-year-old Edwardian building in the centre of Peel Street is protected because of its heritage status but the amenities inside it will close by 2022.

It was agreed by councillors at the community development and services committee meeting yesterday to build new 24-hour toilets in the Peel Street area at a cost of $100,000.

Gisborne District Council will apply for outside funding from Heritage New Zealand, and consider offering the building to developers.

Gisborne businesses and the community have all said how important it is to have a 24-hour toilet facility in this area.

The Peel Street toilet upgrade and earthquake strengthening was budgeted at $400,000 in the 2017/18 annual plan.

The project did not get off the ground because of a lack of tenders for the job.

When the job was put out for open tender, there was no interest. It then went to a closed tender and only one tender was received — for an amount almost twice the allocated budget.

GDC contracts and assets manager Garrett Blair said they had done their homework on this project and had been through the costing line-by-line to see if there was anywhere they could make potential savings.

The $300,000 left over, after the new $100,000 toilets are built, will be kept in a central business district toilet fund with a focus to upgrade the Bright Street toilet facilities.

The council decided to close the Peel Street toilets once the Bright Street facility opened more than 20 years ago.

The toilets remained open but were not up to new building standards. GDC had until 2022 to strengthen the building or close it to the public.

Community development and services committee chairman Andy Cranston did not think the building was “sexy enough” to attract outside funding but other councillors disagreed.

Councillor Amber Dunn suggested councillors should be talking about how to re-purpose the building.

Councillor Larry Foster agreed and said developers would have a “field day”.

It was an iconic building that had so much merit with it’s lovely fencing and historical signage, he said.

There had been many examples around the world of old public toilets in historic buildings being re-purposed as cafes or food outlets.

Mr Blair said even after the toilets closed, the exterior of the building would be maintained by the council so it did not take away from other buildings.

The community feedback had been that a toilet in this area of town was very important, especially because it was a 24-hour facility and catered for the 3am spill of people from bars.

Without a facility there would be “stuff happening in doorways of businesses and going under the doors”, said Mr Blair.

“Do we want businesses to deal with that the next day?”

Councillor Bill Burdett said he did not think anyone around the table realised how important this toilet facility was for people from up the Coast.

It was their first stop when they arrived in town, he said.

“We are two steps away from closing a facility highly regarded by people from out of town. The Peel Street toilets are well used.”

“I went to businesses and asked, ‘just how vital is this?’

“They said ‘very vital’.

“I just don’t want to see this thing closed. The money spent on consultants would have fixed them years ago,” he said.

Councillor Pat Seymour said they did need a toilet facility there.

Mr Cranston agreed but said it did not need to be a heritage building.

Mr Blair confirmed the cost of a new toilet would be between $70,000 and $100,000.

He also confirmed that new facilities would open before the Peel Street toilets closed.

The Peel Street toilets will end their days in the next four years but the building will remain standing.

The 97-year-old Edwardian building in the centre of Peel Street is protected because of its heritage status but the amenities inside it will close by 2022.

It was agreed by councillors at the community development and services committee meeting yesterday to build new 24-hour toilets in the Peel Street area at a cost of $100,000.

Gisborne District Council will apply for outside funding from Heritage New Zealand, and consider offering the building to developers.

Gisborne businesses and the community have all said how important it is to have a 24-hour toilet facility in this area.

The Peel Street toilet upgrade and earthquake strengthening was budgeted at $400,000 in the 2017/18 annual plan.

The project did not get off the ground because of a lack of tenders for the job.

When the job was put out for open tender, there was no interest. It then went to a closed tender and only one tender was received — for an amount almost twice the allocated budget.

GDC contracts and assets manager Garrett Blair said they had done their homework on this project and had been through the costing line-by-line to see if there was anywhere they could make potential savings.

The $300,000 left over, after the new $100,000 toilets are built, will be kept in a central business district toilet fund with a focus to upgrade the Bright Street toilet facilities.

The council decided to close the Peel Street toilets once the Bright Street facility opened more than 20 years ago.

The toilets remained open but were not up to new building standards. GDC had until 2022 to strengthen the building or close it to the public.

Community development and services committee chairman Andy Cranston did not think the building was “sexy enough” to attract outside funding but other councillors disagreed.

Councillor Amber Dunn suggested councillors should be talking about how to re-purpose the building.

Councillor Larry Foster agreed and said developers would have a “field day”.

It was an iconic building that had so much merit with it’s lovely fencing and historical signage, he said.

There had been many examples around the world of old public toilets in historic buildings being re-purposed as cafes or food outlets.

Mr Blair said even after the toilets closed, the exterior of the building would be maintained by the council so it did not take away from other buildings.

The community feedback had been that a toilet in this area of town was very important, especially because it was a 24-hour facility and catered for the 3am spill of people from bars.

Without a facility there would be “stuff happening in doorways of businesses and going under the doors”, said Mr Blair.

“Do we want businesses to deal with that the next day?”

Councillor Bill Burdett said he did not think anyone around the table realised how important this toilet facility was for people from up the Coast.

It was their first stop when they arrived in town, he said.

“We are two steps away from closing a facility highly regarded by people from out of town. The Peel Street toilets are well used.”

“I went to businesses and asked, ‘just how vital is this?’

“They said ‘very vital’.

“I just don’t want to see this thing closed. The money spent on consultants would have fixed them years ago,” he said.

Councillor Pat Seymour said they did need a toilet facility there.

Mr Cranston agreed but said it did not need to be a heritage building.

Mr Blair confirmed the cost of a new toilet would be between $70,000 and $100,000.

He also confirmed that new facilities would open before the Peel Street toilets closed.

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Shannon Dowsing - 11 days ago
I wanted to clarify the recommendation accepted by the Community Development committee regarding the Peel street toilets.

The Herald was correct that a new 24hr facility will be built at $100k, and that for the time being the upgrade is on hold for the existing building.

The remaining $300k however will stay in budget for Peel Street and not transfer to a toilet fund as suggested. Staff were also instructed to seek additional funding to assist in saving this building, perhaps heritage funding towards earthquake strengthening and/or tourism funding for refurbishment.

The end goal is to still have a meaningful use for this lovely old loo, how we do that is yet to be seen and it may not remain a toilet block, but we haven't given up on it yet.

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