Plans for Gillett Square toilets should be flushed, report warns

Warnings have been made against plans for public toilets at Gillett Square in Dalston

Warnings have been made against plans for public toilets at Gillett Square in Dalston - Credit: Google maps

Politicians have been warned that installing public toilets in Dalston’s Gillett Square could attract prostitution, drug use and even create a place to “stash weapons”.

A report for Hackney’s planning committee last week suggested the plans be flushed away.

They were not part of the design when the overall scheme was approved in 2018, but the committee had discussed the need for somewhere for people to spend a penny.

The scheme includes retail “pods” and offices, and there was a temporary urinal in the square, which is near Ridley Road market and Dalston Kingsland station.

Instead of a public toilet, developers are floating the idea of allowing the public to use a bathroom in a building at Bradbury Street between 8.30am and 7.30pm on weekdays, and a toilet in a new cafe facing the square between 8.30am and 8pm from Monday to Saturday.

A report by the council’s design officer said: “Whilst I do appreciate the issue of public toilets is a complicated one with vastly contrasting viewpoints, I am of the opinion that the cons outweigh the pros at Gillett Square.

“Historically, we have seen high levels of anti-social behaviour (ASB), drug use and violence at the locality.”

Ambulance treating a person at Gillett Square, Dalston.

Gillett Square has been known as a Dalston hotspot for crime and anti-social behaviour - Credit: Robert Beckford

Police and the council are working to clamp down on the problems.

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The report warned: “It is my belief that if additional toilets were installed we would see ASB rise in the area.

"As seen in other parts of Hackney, these toilets would likely be used for illicit activities such as drug misuse, prostitution, a place to stash weapons and criminal damage.

“I believe the toilets would quickly have their doors broken and as a result would have a minimal impact on people urinating or defecating in the street.”

Councillors were told that when public toilet doors in Stamford Hill “were repeatedly damaged and locks disabled, reports of urination or defecation in residents’ gardens and doorways actually increased and the toilets were themselves used for drug use". 

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