A CONTROVERSIAL plan to tear down town centre public toilets has been recommended for approval by council planning chiefs.

Test Valley Borough Council's (TVBC) Northern Area Planning Committee will sit down to discuss a proposal to demolish the George Yard car park toilets on Thursday, 4 January.

The proposed application would mean the current George Yard block be replaced with five extra car parking spaces and open up the area leading to the High Street.

In a report from a planning officer to be presented at the meeting, the conclusion read: "The existing building is of no architectural or historic interest and is not considered to make a significant contribution to the character, appearance or setting of the conservation area.

"The proposal would make a positive contribution to sustaining the significance of the conservation area, taking account of its character, appearance and setting, and would accord with [...] the Test Valley Borough Revised Local Plan."

TVBC announced the applied for permission to tear down the facility earlier this year after it was closed to the public in July over safety concerns due to drug use.

It said this this follows the successful roll-out of Andover’s new community toilet scheme where businesses have agreed to open up their toilets to members of the public without users having to make a purchase.

In return the council will pay each company £1,500 per year.

So far four business have signed up, including Costa, Caffè Nero, The Redbridge and Café Bridge, in addition to existing facilities in the Chantry Centre.

However the application has faced heavy criticism, including seven letters of objection and an official response from Andover Town Council (ATC).

ATC submitted its objection with scepticism over the new toilet scheme, which has only been trialled since its July launch.

TVBC responded to the concerns in last week's Advertiser with a special Q&A on the Community Toilet Scheme and demolition plans.

However a borough councillor has said she will 'stick by her words' and has declared she will be voting against the application at next week's meeting.

As previously reported St Mary's ward representative, Councillor Iris Andersen, said it would be a waste to tear down the building.

She suggested the toilets could be made into a tourist board with communal toilets manned Monday to Saturday inside.

Cllr Andersen said: "I will not change my mind about the demolition of the public toilets in George Yard car park.

"I know we have an alternative scheme and there is a Q&A telling everybody why they are doing this.

"My concern is what happens if the businesses don’t want to be in the scheme any more.

"One of the businesses have their toilets upstairs, not all of us can do stairs, but there is a disabled toilet down stairs.

"On January 4 this will come to planning, which way this will go I do not know.

"But I will be voting against it myself.

"Thank you to the public for all their support."

The meeting, open to the public to attend, is being held at TVBC's Weyhill Road offices from 5.30pm.