Planning issues relating to the building and refurbishment of toilets in Teignmouth have cost the town council around £100,000, it was recently revealed.

Teignmouth Town Council said that it had received planning permission for all five proposed toilet blocks before the end of 2022 and had the budget and resources in place to start work in the 2023/23 financial year.

However, the Town Council claims a review of the project by Teignbridge District Council delayed the start by over a year. This has resulted in Teignmouth Town Council having to foot the bill for a lost £18,000 government ‘changing places’ grant, around £75,000 in enabling works costs, and further inflationary costs due to cost rises in the construction industry.

‘Sadly, in January 2023, Teignbridge District Council advised the Teignmouth Town Council that the agreement on the toilets project would need to be financially reviewed due to budget constraints at their end,’ a Teignmouth Town Council spokesperson explained. ‘This took the best part of 2023 to complete and resulted in us losing the changing places toilet grant.’

A Teignbridge District Council spokesperson argued that ‘as part of the (changing places) grant conditions you had to be able to demonstrate that all projects would be on site by the end of March 2024. We understand that Teignmouth weren’t able to meet these conditions and therefore were unable to claim the grant.’

Teignmouth Town Council plans to install changing places facilities in the toilets on Lower Brook Street between Lidl and Wetherspoons.

Changing places grants were awarded by the government to enable local authorities to provide sanitary toilet facilities for people with multiple and complex disabilities and who might be accompanied by one or two assistants. However, grants were time-limited.

Over 250,000 people across the country need personal assistance to use the toilet or change incontinence pads, including people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, spinal injuries and people living with stroke.

Teignmouth Town Council also claims that the Teignbridge review ‘resulted in £75,000 of enabling works that Teignbridge District Council were going to do being lost together with a very significant hike in the cost of the whole toilets project due to construction industry inflation caused by the Teignbridge delay.’

Teignmouth Town Council is hoping to complete its toilets project within the next two years. Last month, work began on demolishing the former aquarium to make room for a new toilet block on the Den. Facilities will also be built in the East Cliff car park and Quay car park, while the Lower Brook Street and Point car park toilets will be refurbished.

Elsewhere in Teignbridge, three new changing places facilities will be completed by the end of this month at Dawlish Warren, Dawlish Lawn and Decoy Park in Newton Abbot.

‘Changing places facilities can vastly improve people’s quality of life, allowing disabled people and their assistants to stay out for longer and participate in more activities across the district,’ said Teignbridge councillor and lead member for property and assets David Palethorpe.