PUBLIC toilets were deemed “essential” to a £12 million project that will form part of the regeneration of an often troubled part of Bournemouth town centre.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of keeping toilets as part of the major new town centre development at Leyton Mount which includes a block of 62 flats and a large restaurant.

Developers were originally granted planning permission on the condition that the scheme included replacement public toilets, but they asked planners to lift the condition and allow additional commercial floorspace.

Vice chairman of the planning board Cllr Ron Whittaker said: “We need good quality toilets in the area, especially for the elderly or those with children.

“There are not enough public toilets in this part of the town and we also don’t have good enough signage pointing out where the existing toilets are.”

Officers recommended that the request should be refused after both the night-time economy co-ordinator and the town centre manager expressed concerns about the town’s lack of late-night toilet facilities.

It was decided the loss of the public convenience from this location would be detrimental to the function and the long-term regeneration of the area.

Cllr Lynda Price said: “In my view we have an ageing population and a huge number of tourists so it is absolutely essential we have an adequate number of toilets to match the demand.”

The street services manager supported the developer’s request to remove the public convenience on the grounds that there was a facility at Glen Fern Road car park.

BDC development director Duncan Johnston said: “The redevelopment of the car park will be a catalyst for improvement at Horseshoe Common and the streets, paths and open spaces that lead to and from it.”