Toi­let bar to over­haul roof

Sunday Sun - - News - DANIEL HOL­LAND daniel.hol­land@reach­

Reporter VI­TAL restora­tion work on New­cas­tle’s un­der­ground Bigg Mar­ket toi­lets is set to be­gin – but they aren’t be­ing trans­formed into an up­mar­ket wine bar yet.

Be­fore the am­bi­tious over­haul of the Vic­to­rian pub­lic con­ve­niences into a drink­ing venue can start, New­cas­tle City Council will in­stall a new roof at the site.

A deal for pro­posed bar op­er­a­tor WC New­cas­tle Ltd to take over the toi­lets is still not fi­nalised, though planning per­mis­sion and an al­co­hol li­cence has been granted for the venue.

Bring­ing the loos back into use is seen as a cru­cial part of a £3.2mil­lion re­gen­er­a­tion of the wider Bigg Mar­ket area.

The toi­lets, which date back to 1898, have been closed to the pub­lic since 2012, as part of cost-cut­ting mea­sures at the council.

No date for the first stage of the restora­tion has been set, but the lo­cal au­thor­ity says it hopes to have work­men on site “as soon as pos­si­ble”.

Coun Ged Bell, cabi­net mem­ber for em­ploy­ment, said: “As part of the council’s and NE1 plans to im­prove the Bigg Mar­ket, the council has man­aged to ob­tain planning per­mis­sion for a new roof cov­er­ing and se­cure match fund­ing from the Her­itage Lot­tery fund scheme for this and other works to the toi­let.

“The fund­ing is usu­ally se­cured by the build­ing owner who is re­im­bursed 55% of the cost. The op­er­a­tor would fit out the prop­erty for their pur­pose.

“The council is still in de­tailed dis­cus­sions with an in­ter­ested party to op­er­ate a high-qual­ity es­tab­lish­ment that will com­ple­ment the ex­cit­ing plans for the Bigg Mar­ket. This long ne­glected area of the city will be trans­formed into a vi­brant and at­trac­tive hub that will see new jobs.”

Un­der the con­di­tions of the pro­posed venue’s li­cence, al­co­hol can be sold un­til 11pm from Mon­day to Wed­nes­day and un­til mid­night from Thurs­day to Sun­day.

The council has also im­posed a re­stric­tion stat­ing that no more than 50 peo­ple will be al­lowed in the bar, with a min­i­mum of 35 seats and waiter ser­vice.

WC New­cas­tle has said the venue will be an “in­ti­mately de­signed and at­mo­spher­i­cally lit sub­ter­ranean bar, in keep­ing with the Vic­to­rian her­itage, but fused with a mod­ern out­look and feel”.

It is hoped that the re­vival of the Bigg Mar­ket will re­verse decades of un­der­in­vest­ment, while also re-es­tab­lish­ing the area in New­cas­tle’s his­toric core along­side both the Cas­tle and St Ni­cholas Cathe­dral. COUN GED BELL The his­toric Bigg Mar­ket toi­lets are to be put up for rent and re­de­vel­op­ment


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