New public toilets to cost more than average house

It could be cheaper to buy a house in Timaru than to build modern toilets in Twizel.

The town's community board will debate two possible designs to put out for tender at their meeting on Monday, after the Mackenzie District Council called for expressions of interest. The council received proposals from DLA Architects and Draftline - both designs had projected costs of over $300,000.

In Timaru, the average house sale price is about $260,000, in the Mackenzie district the average is $270,000.

Mackenzie District Council's community facilities manager Garth Nixon said although $300,000 seemed like a lot of money for a new toilet, it had to be put into perspective.

"Toilets are a very important piece of infrastructure for a town. It's often the state of their public toilets that make the first impression on visitors," he said.

Mr Nixon said the new toilets would be situated in the town's marketplace. "The previous toilets were a remnant of the days of the hydro projects. They were very old infrastructure," he said.

However, Mr Nixon said public toilets were also a frequent target for vandalism, so they had to be robustly built.

"I appreciate that $300,000 sounds like a lot of money, but . . . if you're building a house, the bathroom is almost always the most expensive part - so imagine if you're building a house consisting of nothing but bathrooms."

According to the proposal sent out to respective designers, the council would like the new facility to include three separate male toilet cubicles and three urinals, four female cubicles and one accessible unisex unit. It would also feature modern hand-basin and drying facilities, a cleaner's cupboard and a generator unit.

Once the community board picks the preferred design, the council would put the construction out for tender.

The Timaru Herald