Emerging Project

Community WC & Drinking Water Scheme

Idea: Initiative where local businesses offer public access to their toilet facilities and free refills of tap water, with the future potential for water fountains to be installed in the public spaces.

Potential Public Heath pilot scheme where businesses and organisations, such as shops, cafés, supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and pubs, sign-up their toilet facilities as public access, potentially in return for a small incentive, for example, contributions towards maintenance or local advertising, free cleaning products. Alongside a scheme for businesses to offer free refills of tap water, ‘Barnet Refill’.

In addition to signage to denote participating venues, locations could be mapped using an app or within an existing Town Centre or Council website, alongside the availability of paper maps to launch the scheme. Potential to join existing schemes such as Refill and Use our Loos (The Great British Public Toilet Map).

Why it is useful:

  • Access to toilet facilities is key to lengthen the time people spend in the town centre, especially for those with accessibility needs, elderly and or families with young children.
  • Across the UK, more than one in every three public toilets have been closed over the last two decades. The scheme provides more clean, safe and accessible toilets for members of the public.
  • Free water refills and water fountains reduce the use of single-use plastic, save money and promote drinking water over sugary drinks.
  • Advertising increases business exposure and promotes footfalls.

Who needs to be involved:

  • Council: Lead scheme
  • Town Team: Support in encouraging business engagement
  • Local businesses & institutions: Host, allowing access to their WCs and providing free tap water refills

How to get started:

  • Test idea with local businesses and institutions

Viability considerations:

  • Funding: Council initiative
  • Site Ownership: Negotiated public access
  • Resource: Council officer time

Example: Use Our Loos

Use Our Loos is the first national community toilet scheme, created by the British Toilet Association, Domestos and the Great British Public Toilet Map, with the ambition to unlock the loos that are hidden in high street cafés, restaurants, coffee shops and bars and open them up to the community. Currently, only the Spires toilets are included on the map.

Example: Refill

A national scheme where businesses sign up to be Refill stations, offering free refills of tap water. Started in 2015, now there are 20,000 locations across the UK. Locations are mapped on an app.