PLANS to convert a recently-sold former public toilet block in Newport into a café have been refused.

Earlier this year, plans were submitted to convert the former public toilets on Caerleon Road into a two-storey café and takeaway.

The plans would have seen the currently single-storey toilet block extended on the ground floor, with an additional floor added above.

Currently, the now-disused toilets occupy a small section of the plot of land, in Caerleon Road.

But, the applicant, Zena Al-Ibrahim of MS Property Maintenance, registered to an address in Cardiff has been dealt a blow, as the plans have been refused for multiple reasons.

The refusal will come as a double blow for the applicant, as the site was purchased for more than five times its guide price a little over six months ago.

Listed for auction with a guide price of £15,000 in October, it eventually sold for an eye-watering £75,250.

This came at the end of a heated bidding war, in which 18 bidders made a total of 158 bids.

What did plans show?

A planning application, submitted to Newport City Council, called for a change of use, from a vacant public toilets, to a class A3 premises serving hot food and drink.

If approved, there would be café-type seating inside, and a counter for food service.

There would be an extension to the front and side of the building, and a two-storey rear extension.

Supporting documents show that the first floor would be used for storage, while the history of the site would not be completely lost to time, with a small section of the building used as customer toilets.

So why were plans refused?

Following the submission of the planning application, local residents received letters in respect of these plans.

They received just one objection, which claimed that “Caerleon Road is becoming saturated with takeaways which promotes unsocial behaviour after dark.”

Meanwhile, a council planning officer revealed that since the closure of the public toilets in 2018, “the site has been subject to vandalism and fly tipping.”

In addition, with the site no longer owned by the council, there is “clearly no plans to re-open it or expectations for it to be retained as public toilets.”

But, the planning officer took issue with the design of the new elements to the building, specifically the second storey extension.

Considering this, they said: “the design of the first floor element, large expanse of glazing to the gable frontage and the proposed UPVC cladding and rooflights are considered to be incongruous, unsympathetic and would not be in keeping with the character of the street scene or wider area.”

A site plan submitted along with the application showed that there would be on-site parking for three vehicles, and the council also objected to this, saying: “The proposed parking arrangement is considered to be obtrusive and cars reversing across the pavement in this location, with no visibility splay is unsuitable and unacceptable.”

What’s more, a failure to include information as to how the café plans would impact local residents in regards to noise disturbances was counted against the applicant, and for these three reasons, the plans were refused.

Toilet plans in Newport – haven’t we been here before?

Somewhat bizarrely, Newport has a rich history of redeveloping its public toilets.

Across the city, one-time rest stops have been brought back to life in a variety of ways.

In recent times, the Victorian era toilets on Alexandra Road in Pill were sold for £15,000, and converted into the Phyllis Maude Performance Space.

Elsewhere in the city, the former toilets on Chepstow Road are being transformed into a community café – with the latest planning application having been approved.

Finally, the former toilets on Allt-Yr-Yn Avenue are now a thriving café called The Cafe at Ridgeway, a location which earns rave reviews.