Abandoned Gosport toilets are transformed into a new ‘community hub’

A new community meeting place has been opened at Forton Recreation Ground in Gosport. Left to right, local swimming champion Dominic Redpath, Mayor of Gosport Councillor Diane Furlong, chair trustees Andy Kennedy and Malcolm Dent of the Gosportarians. Picture Ian Hargreaves  (181028-1_toilet)
A new community meeting place has been opened at Forton Recreation Ground in Gosport. Left to right, local swimming champion Dominic Redpath, Mayor of Gosport Councillor Diane Furlong, chair trustees Andy Kennedy and Malcolm Dent of the Gosportarians. Picture Ian Hargreaves (181028-1_toilet)

A FORMER toilet block that had been left in disrepair for more than five years has been transformed into a community hub.

The old toilets in Forton Recreation play area, in Coulmere Road, Gosport, were opened as the new centre for Y Services – a group that provides outreach sessions for young people.

Built in just eight weeks by the Gosportarians community group, the new site has a kitchenette, seating area, television and a disabled-access toilet complete with a shower.

Gosportarian Malcolm Dent said: ‘Y Services had the funding for the project, but couldn’t find anyone to do the work and needed a project manager.

‘Fellow Gosportarian Paul Cobb kindly offered to do the building work, and I took on the role of project manager.

‘We’re really proud of how this has turned out – it’s a fabulous building that can be used by the community.’

Prior to the development work, the toilet block had been in disrepair for more than seven years.

Y Services has pledged to open the space up for the community to use.

Chair of trustees Andy Kennedy said: ‘It is the kind of space where we can have groups, but also have one-to-one sessions with people.

‘Before the Gosportarians took this place on, it was derelict and falling apart – but when I first saw the transformation I was speechless.

‘We can’t wait to start using this space and sharing it with other community groups.’

Builder Paul Cobb, also a member of the Gosportarians, added: ‘This place can become an incredible community hub in the area, and it has been a real community effort to put this together.’

Speaking after the opening on Sunday, chairman of the council’s community board, Councillor Graham Burgess, said projects like these bring out the best in the town.

He said: ‘This project has brought the old toilet block back into use and I am really pleased with what they have achieved.

‘To me, it proves that there is a lot of good things going on, and its great to have things like Y Services to support young people.’