Lou’s View For­mer toi­let now flushed with suc­cess

» How I turned a pub­lic toi­let into a house with a view

Gloucestershire Echo - - FRONT PAGE - Paul WILT­SHIRE gloslive­[email protected]­plc.com

FOR years, it was a place that peo­ple used in an emer­gency - and got out of as soon as they could.

But now a for­mer pub­lic toi­let block on the edge of Chel­tenham is some­where that vis­i­tors never want to leave.

In 2011, 58-year-old Louise Hous­ton bought the iso­lated loo build­ing at Cleeve Hill be­cause she wanted her own bolt­hole in the area.

The busi­ness­woman (pic­tured) who grew up in Stan­ley Pont­large paid Tewkes­bury Bor­ough Coun­cil £35,000 at auc­tion af­ter the au­thor­ity de­cided to sell off a hand­ful of its loos.

Louise had just sold most of her stake in a ho­tel in Corn­wall, and was keen to see more of her five chil­dren, aged be­tween 21 and 40, who all now live in Glouces­ter­shire.

Fast for­ward eight years, and the once cold and func­tional pub­lic con­ve­niences have been trans­formed into a cosy two-up, twodown cot­tage. It’s now a soughtafte­r des­ti­na­tion on Airbnb, with Louise charg­ing £85 a night. In a nod to the sim­i­lar­ity be­tween its for­mer use and her own name - and the gor­geous out­look - she’s called it Lou’s View.

“It came up for auc­tion and I thought, ‘I could do some­thing with that,’” said Louise. “I was look­ing for a bolt­hole.” She held her nerve at the auc­tion, and snapped up the block, which she says was “look­ing tatty”.

She strug­gled for a few years to get plan­ning per­mis­sion to con­vert the build­ing, with coun­cil plan­ning of­fi­cers keen to pre­serve its ex­ist­ing foot­print. While she couldn’t build out, she man­aged to win per­mis­sion to raise the roof slightly, al­low­ing her to put in an up­stairs floor.

As the project devel­oped, the idea of putting it on Airbnb when she wasn’t us­ing it be­gan to grab her.

Lou’s View now boasts a kitchen diner, lounge, and down­stairs loo, with two dou­ble bed­rooms up­stairs.

She started hir­ing it out last year and in July and Au­gust there were only three nights in each month when it wasn’t oc­cu­pied.

It’s in de­mand dur­ing race week, and pop­u­lar with cou­ples.

Al­though booked up for Christ­mas, when Louise will lay on a tree, Lou’s View is al­ways re­served for its owner when she wants to en­joy it. When she’s not there, Louise runs a mis­chievously­acronymed bus and guide ser­vice in the Cor­nish vil­lage of Port Isaac, where the TV drama Doc Martin is filmed, called Port Isaac Shut­tle Ser­vice.

She also owns a third of her old ho­tel in the vil­lage and is de­vel­op­ing a taxi ser­vice.

One re­cent re­view said: “Such a lovely quirky lit­tle place. We trav­elled as a group of 4 (2 cou­ples) and it was ab­so­lutely per­fect.

“There are loads of lovely walks nearby and a pub within a few min­utes’ walk­ing dis­tance. It’s the per­fect lit­tle get­away in the Cotswolds.

“You get so much pri­vacy here as the house backs onto Cleeve Com­mon and has no other houses sur­round­ing it.”

It came up for auc­tion and I thought, ‘I could do some­thing with that.’

Louise Hous­ton

In 2011, 58-year-old Louise Hous­ton bought the iso­lated loo build­ing at Cleeve Hill be­cause she wanted her own bolt­hole Louise Hous­ton

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