'Big metal toilet' for bus drivers sparks fury of residents in quiet suburban street

Telegraph Reporters
TfL has been accused of taking the pee - Evening Standard / eyevine

Residents on a quiet residential road have complained after transport planners installed an 11-ft lavatory block for bus drivers outside their homes.

On Tuesday Transport for London (TfL) installed the lavatory block - dubbed the “Turdis” by angry residents - on a street in Biggin Hill, on the border of South London and Kent, amid claims that homeowners on the road were not consulted.

Local councillor Julian Bennington said that furious residents smashed its windows within hours of its installation earlier this week and that its lock is already broken.

He said: “People are very angry - it's literally outside their houses.

"It's a monstrosity dumped here - the size of it and everything else - in the middle of what is a residential area.

"We knew nothing about it as local councillors and the council didn't either. Residents have now been asking about why they weren't consulted.”

The lavatory, which did not require planning permission, has been installed to serve drivers on the half-hourly R2 route via Orpington in the London Borough of Bromley, TfL said.

But, Mr Bennington, said: “This has never been raised as a difficulty.

"It's a totally unsuitable location, it's entirely residential and the other end of the bus route is Orpington Town Centre so there are toilets there and premises.”

"It's been called locally, The Turdis, you can understand the reasons for that. I'm hoping they will get rid of it and adjust the timing on the bus route so drivers can stop in Orpington.”

Local resident Stephanie Willis added: “It’s the most ugly thing I have ever seen - it is a monstrosity.

“If this is a Dr Who-themed Christmas present from TfL then they should take it back.

"This is a quiet residential area where people have lived peacefully for years. Now we have a big ugly blot on the community, I am absolutely furious.

"Just behind my house are lovely green hills, it is a beautiful area ruined by this big metal toilet."

Nick Fairholme, director of project and programme delivery at TfL, said that the lavatory had been “installed in agreement” with the local council and that the body was “sorry not all residents were aware”.

He said: “Unfortunately our courtesy letters did not reach all residents. We are investigating how this happened to ensure it does not happen again.”

However, a Bromley Council spokesman said, “It is not true for TfL to assert that the Council 'agreed' to this.  For absolute clarity, the Council has not agreed to the installation of the toilet facilities. We were informed of TfL’s intention to install the structures and that they were exercising their permitted development rights. It is true that we did not raise a highway safety concern, because there aren’t any, but this does not constitute ‘agreement’.”

Councillor William Huntington-Thresher, executive councillor for environment, said, “It does not appear that local people have been consulted and we are contacting TfL urgently to ask exactly who was consulted – whilst neither Bromley’s permission nor planning permission may be required, this does not mean that the views of local people can be disregarded, with the potential for these toilets to attract anti-social behaviour, with vandalism already an issue.

"We are making TfL aware of the views of our residents to these installations at these unwelcome locations. We will continue to engage with TfL to provide them with the benefit of local knowledge and alert them to local issues. We remain hopeful that TfL will listen more often than at present.”

Polly Straight, who lives on the road,  said: “These government bodies couldn’t give a s--- about the people that pay their wages.

“The toilet just has to go outside someone’s house and it’s convenient the letters of this imposition didn’t arrive.”