Heritage value of Peel Steet building ignored in council debate

EDITORIAL

Two key points appeared to be overlooked in the sometimes scatalogical debate at council this week on refurbishing the Peel Street toilets: the fact a separate night-time facility is included in the $400,000 cost, and the actual status of the building.

The council has adopted a staff recommendation to allocate $400,000 this coming financial year to refurbish the toilets, following consultation.

Much of the focus of the debate was on the estimated $400,000 cost. While the staff recommendation on the front of the agenda item only referred to refurbishment, a “staff response” inside proposed that a dedicated night-time facility also be installed alongside the building. Chief executive Nedine Thatcher-Swann confirmed this morning that this is part of the $400,000 proposal.

At least there was no reversion to previous sugggestions the building be demolished, but there was still an undercurrent of distaste for it . . . although comments describing it as disgusting were directed at the misuse of the toilets. Several speakers were jealous of the state of public toilets in other centres.

It is worth remembering that the battle to save the building has been fought and in fact won.

In 1999 Luke Donnelly, who stood for mayor two years later, led a group that took their case to the Environment Court and obtained an enforcement order prohibiting the council from demolishing the building, because of its heritage values.

The toilets still have a role to play, as was noted. They are situated in a nightclub area and the dedicated night-time facility, which will be self-cleaning and more vandal-proof, will help protect the historic building.

It is also worth noting 59 percent of 94 submitters through annual plan consultation process wanted the building retained, while 29 percent supported a night-time facility. Just 5 percent wanted to build the night-time facility and to repurpose the building for something else.

After everything, the grand old lady of Peel Street is set to get a facelift before she turns 100 four years from now.

Two key points appeared to be overlooked in the sometimes scatalogical debate at council this week on refurbishing the Peel Street toilets: the fact a separate night-time facility is included in the $400,000 cost, and the actual status of the building.

The council has adopted a staff recommendation to allocate $400,000 this coming financial year to refurbish the toilets, following consultation.

Much of the focus of the debate was on the estimated $400,000 cost. While the staff recommendation on the front of the agenda item only referred to refurbishment, a “staff response” inside proposed that a dedicated night-time facility also be installed alongside the building. Chief executive Nedine Thatcher-Swann confirmed this morning that this is part of the $400,000 proposal.

At least there was no reversion to previous sugggestions the building be demolished, but there was still an undercurrent of distaste for it . . . although comments describing it as disgusting were directed at the misuse of the toilets. Several speakers were jealous of the state of public toilets in other centres.

It is worth remembering that the battle to save the building has been fought and in fact won.

In 1999 Luke Donnelly, who stood for mayor two years later, led a group that took their case to the Environment Court and obtained an enforcement order prohibiting the council from demolishing the building, because of its heritage values.

The toilets still have a role to play, as was noted. They are situated in a nightclub area and the dedicated night-time facility, which will be self-cleaning and more vandal-proof, will help protect the historic building.

It is also worth noting 59 percent of 94 submitters through annual plan consultation process wanted the building retained, while 29 percent supported a night-time facility. Just 5 percent wanted to build the night-time facility and to repurpose the building for something else.

After everything, the grand old lady of Peel Street is set to get a facelift before she turns 100 four years from now.

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