Former toilets provide convenient living for Londoners
- 25 January 2013
- From the section London
Converting abandoned public toilets in London into flats and businesses is providing a solution to rising property prices for some.
Peter Tomlinson took redundancy from his marketing job and ploughed much of his money into converting a former public toilet near Oxford Circus to create a sandwich and coffee bar.
He said: "Everything has been jet washed and the soil stacks have been concreted and capped.
"It smells beautiful down here now."
The old attendant's office has been converted into a kitchen and the urinals are now table tops, in a conversion which has cost more than £100,000.
Architect Laura Jane Clark has spent more than £60,000 converting an abandoned toilet in Crystal Palace, south London, to create her dream one-bedroom flat.
Her living room used to be the main gents stalls and urinals and her bathroom was formerly the attendant's office.
The glass tiles on the pavement give natural light to her underground flat.
She said: "I love the originality of living in a toilet."
London has seen local authority maintained facilities falling from 486 in 2000, to 401 in 2011, which meant it had "a closure rate twice that of the country as a whole", according to a London Assembly Health and Public Services Committee report.
Paul Talling, author of Derelict London, who has photographed scores of closed down public conveniences, said he had seen former toilets that had been turned in comedy clubs and beauty salons.
He said: "They can make quite quirky flats or restaurants. They really are prime property."
Savills estate agent Lindsay Cuthill said conventional spaces on offer in the capital are very expensive.
He said: "If you can see beyond the smelly lavatory and create this fantastic little space, how clever is that?"