Thanet council’s £1.25m plan for works to improve isle’s public toilets

Public toilets

Thanet council is proposing to spend £1.25 million on the first phase of improvement works to public toilets across the district.

The investment is the start of an anticipated wider and longer term programme of public toilet improvements which is subject to further funding being secured.

A report setting out proposals for repair and improvement to ten public facilities will be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Panel on Wednesday 6 December. It will then be considered for approval by the Cabinet on Thursday 14 December.

The report identifies potential for spending to increase to £1.5m subject to a further sum of £250k being approved via external funding.

Surveys have been conducted at each facility by an independent surveyor, Geoff Oliver & Associates Ltd, to gain an understanding of the condition of the district’s 27 council-managed public toilets.

An initial budget of £279k will be used for repairs. Additionally, £571k of capital funding has been identified for new build works where public toilets may be end of life or require a new accessible toilet.

There is also expected to be £650k of additional external funding. This is made up of £250k from Southern Water – if agreed – and £400k from the Margate Town Deal.

The work is to be carried out in phases based on priority need. The list of toilets recommended for initial repair are:

  • St Mildred’s Bay, Westgate (£18k)
  • West Bay, Westgate (£36k)
  • Joss Bay (£21k)
  • Broadstairs Harbour (£72k)
  • The Centre, Margate (£13k)
  • Ramsgate Pier Yard (£39k)
  • Viking Bay (chalet block) (£80k)

These priority repairs were determined based on factors including frequency of use, proximity to a landmark or attraction and the need to improve disabled access and baby changing facilities.

The repair work will focus on resolving existing defects and is not a full refurbishment of the toilets.

If approved, the repairs are anticipated to be completed ahead of the 2024 summer season.

Some £82k was also spent earlier this year on a refurb of the Margate Harbour Arm toilets.

New blocks

In addition to the repair work, a recommendation has been made to build a new toilet block at Stone Bay in Broadstairs, which will include accessible facilities.

It is also proposed to reopen the subterranean toilets located at Margate Main Sands along with the creation of a new accessible toilet at promenade level. New accessible toilets will also be provided at Botany Bay under the plans.

A report to councillors says: “It is recommended that a new toilet block at Stone Bay is built with the £450k capital funding. The new build will provide accessible toilet facilities at Stone Bay, to replace the currently small toilet block which is only accessible via steps. The current toilets are halfway up the cliff, and are at the end of their life.

“In regard to Marine Terrace subterranean toilets located in Margate, the current facility is unsuitable for disabled use under the Equality Act 2010. Thus, a single new build accessible toilet needs to be built at promenade level. This work shall be funded by the Margate Town Deal funding.

“The Council has assigned £400k of this funding to the project. It is envisaged that the accessible toilet will not use up the whole of the funding available and that the existing subterranean toilets can also be repaired with this money.”

Southern Water has discussed the possibility of committing £250k for the refurbishment of Botany Bay toilets. Southern Water has also committed to placing seasonal Portacabin style toilets at the car park end of the bay.

Further funding needed

Works on Minnis Bay, Alpha Road, Station Road, Dumpton Gap, Harold Road, College Walk, Marine Terrace (Buenos Ayres), King George VI Park, Royal Esplanade Ramsgate (Screaming Alley), Cavendish Street, Ramsgate Cemetery, Ramsgate Bathing Station, Victoria Gardens, Hopeville Avenue, Vere Road, Crofts Place have been costed but are subject to future funding being identified.

The toilet review chain of events

In 2019 a review into the future of the isle’s public toilets was announced by TDC as part of a bid to save £175,000 in its 2019-20 budget. A community loo deal with local businesses was one idea suggested although no further action was made public.

A review was then agreed in November 2020 when it was reported by TDC that a total of 27 public toilets were open to the public over the summer season with 13 on or near to Thanet beaches. The review and recommendations were due to be reported back to Cabinet members  in March 2021 although this did not take place.

The council’s 2020/21 budget made a proposal to invest in a public toilet refurbishment programme, reversing the plan to make £175,000 in savings. Some of this maintenance got underway in 2021.

A condition survey of the public toilets was commissioned in 2022 which identified that £1.3m of repairs were required, and that of this £1m would need to be spent within the next few years.

A public toilet strategy was earmarked to be discussed at the start of this year and was then scheduled to take place after the May elections.

Consultant AECOM was contracted in October 2023 to conduct an exercise in conjunction with officers to determine what works should be recommended to be taken forward within the confines of the funding available

Councils are not required by law to provide  loos and continuing cuts to local authority funding have resulted in public toilets plunging by more than 600 across the country since 2010.


  1. Regardless of whether councils are legally required to provide public lavatories if TDC Wish to attract tourists and visitors and develop a thriving tourist economy this is a basic provision to be provided.
    These improvements are years overdue much like road sweeping rubbish collection and recycling in Thanet.

    • It is indeed a shame that much of Thanet resembles a derelict slum much of the time with rubbish and graffiti everywhere. As you say – hardly a welcoming sight for visitors (never mind the residents).

      A road sweeper is seldom seen.

      What happened to those miscreants on Community Service who were supposed to be clearing overgrown areas and removing graffiti ?

      It is the usual story of everything being neglected for decades – until it becomes pretty much uneconomic to repair (don’t mention the Winter Gardens or Theatre Royal !).

      • That’s good news, maybe they could do some work up Royal crescent and take the scaffolding down that’s now been up for 7 yrs , what a joke

  2. Refurbishing them is one thing. Opening the coastal toilets, even just for weekends, during the off peak season must be considered too as part of this.

  3. What we really need is toilets open all year round – particularly the 6-mile stretch popular with walkers & cyclists between Margate and Broadstairs. We could also do with the long-closed ones at Beresford Gap being reopened.

  4. I would think it better to have these toilets ‘Pay to use’ and manned, I only say that because as soon as these toilets are refurbed, they’ll be trashed, used by druggies and all sorts of disgusting behavior.

  5. It’s good to know that TDC have finally realised the importance of having toilets open but being clean and accessible for everyone’s I for one would welcome TDC charging for thus service as they do in other local resorts in Sussex. We need them to be open in the evening to an appropriate time for tourists and local people

  6. I am a woman in Mid life with a bladder condition. There are over 1 million people with bladder issues. Hence, access to a toilet is essential.
    The advantages of a clean, secure toilet are going to be an asset to our community. For the following reasons.
    1. People will not come to the towns to shop or to the beach if no toilets. So we must ensure people have access. I think thd idea of paying for access say 30 pence is a good one. Sandwich for this and it is manned. This would be a good idea for the main beach areas. For example, Ramsgate and Margate, Birchington. The other toilets to have mobile cleaners to ensure the standards of the toilets are maintained. In Ramsgate the Cavendish toilets is essential for people in the town. We need to attract tourists,I also think a shower facility should be available in the main toilets in the area. Ramsgate Harbour area. The toilets should have electric shutters and have displayed set opening and closing times. I have seen people checking the harbour toilets but they just pop in and pop out. If I was a tourist I would want good facilities. People will be happy to pay if the toilets are keep to a good standard.

  7. TDC need to provide facilities for visitors coming to Thanet. In the summer tourists are our life line. Ensuring these facilities are protected and safe is their issue, If personed or closed at nights is their respinsability. Knowing them they will have NO plan for anything. As much use as chocolate fireguards

  8. I do hope something comes of this & its done properly. Thanet needs to be a welcoming area, not somewhere thats avoided.

  9. Bear in mind Labour are now running TDC so things can only get better. The Tories are evil as the COVID inquiry has shown they don’t even like each other so why should anyone. Tories will ruin and run down everything into the ground then boast they have done well!!! If that’s not bad enough there are some who are mad enough to vote for them how sick is that.??

  10. Surely it must be cheaper for us taxpayers if the toilets were kept in good working order all the time. Instead of letting the toilets get to the stage were they need closing or loads of our money spending on them

  11. Maybe they could think about putting more toilets and parking at Botany Bay. There are more adverts on social media promoting Botany Bay,but no actual facilities to accommodate extra tourism to the annoyance of local residents.

    • Miss A.. without wishing to be rude, perhaps read the article fully. Improvements at Botany Bay are quite extensive. I am more concerned that there is no mention of Westbrook Bay. I am unclear whether the future of provision there is now assumed to be the responsibility of Tracey Emin as the new owner, or whether TDC are still responsible? Certainly for next season they should be as there are no signs of work starting at the Loggia building yet. I also agree with others who think that better out of season provision should be made.. and what is the objection to manning and charges since so many other Councils operate their public toilets on that basis?

  12. I agree with having to pay to use the facilities. When visiting the Peak District one had to pay £1.00 either by cash or card. This may seem extreme but the toilets were spotlessly clean with plenty of hot water etc and there wasn’t any graffiti or vandalism. I’m of the opinion that the vast majority of people would rather pay than seeing the toilets closed?

      • But look at the difference between the the people living/visiting the Norfolk Broads in comparison to the amount of idiots we have in Thanet.

          • I’ve lived in both, I can safely say there is a higher percentage living in Thanet, of whatever you want to call them, those that have little or no regard for their surroundings, those who will actively ruin everything they come into contact with.

  13. We also need 24 hour public toilets, Whitstable and Canterbury both have one ! They only other option is if you have a medical problem is to buy a Radar key from a disability website or IBS website.

  14. I am pleased to see public toilets at last getting upgraded.
    I would like to see toilet attendants employed too. Most people would pay for this service. I remember as a child, the ladies at the clock tower Margate and Westbrook beach, they were lovely and helpful.

  15. Whilst many for years have been lamenting the lack of public toilets and the shocking state of many of those in existence in Thanet , it appears that only when Tracey Emin joined the chorus of complainants in the local and national press that our councillors were ashamed enough to grudgingly proclaim a programme of works to remedy the problem.

  16. The disabled toilet at Broadstairs bandstand is disgusting as everyone uses it. The men come to clean it but just look never actually clean it.and the Ladies toilet down stairs are always dirty,not working or no soap to wash hands.people come hear to listern to the bands and surely they should be catered for with nice toilets.And the company now who sends a man round who does nothing should be sacked

  17. Why isn’t the Margate Clocktower toilets top of the list for repairs. It is next to a landmark and is very popular, especially throughout the summer season. Actually, I don’t even see it on the list at all. Is this a mistake ? Can you find out what the intentions are with this set of toilets Kathy, are the council intending to just put portable loos on the pavement indefinitely ?

    • Ah, is this the subterranean /ˌsʌbtəˈreɪnɪən/ block that’s mentioned? So it will be filled in and a new block is proposed to be built on the promenade – if there is enough room without obstructing the crowds using the pavement in summer !

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