If you happen to be caught short on Fulham Broadway in west London forget making a legs-crossed dash for the nearest public lavatory; it’s being turned into an ice-cream parlour.
The Walham Green loos have been snapped up by café owner Luciano Lo Dico for £585,000. The businessman already owns two cafes and is planning on turning the former bog into an Italian-style parlour with a roof balcony “for watching the world go by”.
This is great news for sweet toothed residents of Fulham, but it’s far from ideal if you need a pee while you’re out and about. And it’s not just the well-heeled folk of SW6 who are having to cross their legs, as Raymond Martin, managing director of the British Toilet Association explains: “Local councils don’t get any money from central government for public lavatories and with the squeeze on council budgets we’ve seen a real upsurge in the number of lavatories being converted into homes, cafes and bars in the last three of four months.”
Recent conversion include a sandwich shop in Oxford Street cleverly called The Attendant and bijou bog homes in Scarborough, Crystal Palace and even in Witney, the Prime Minister’s Oxfordshire constituency. There’s also a clutch of bar and clubs, including the Cellar Door and Ginglik in London and the Temple in Manchester, if you fancy somewhere convenient to piss the contens of your wallets up the wall.
The idea of public lavatories hasn’t gone entirely down the pan though, says Martin. “The downturn means more and more shops and cafes are willing to open the doors of lavatories to the public as part of local community toilet scheme. Companies like McDonalds, Burger King, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer have really caught on so look out for signs in their windows if you get caught short.”
The hope is you’ll spend a penny after you’ve spent a penny.