Once the visitors have parked their car, it is frequently a call to the toilets that is next on the list of priorities. If it has been a long journey to the site the urge to respond to the call will probably be acute for any children present. The presence of a clean and well-ventilated toilet block in such circumstances is very welcome. Whether to provide toilet facilities, the capacity and the type of sewage disposal required as well as the design of the building are all important decisions to be made. On the one hand, the comfort and hygiene of visitors is important; on the other hand, the cost of construction and maintenance of toilet blocks can be high compared with other costs associated with running the site.
Should a toilet be provided?
The decision on whether to provide a toilet depends on several factors,
– Location and character of the area. Remote locations of wild character suggest that the impact of human activities should be kept to a minimum. Toilet buildings, however well designed, may spoil the atmosphere of remoteness attached to such places. However, if there are large numbers of visitors the risk to health and the problem of pollution caused by too many people resorting to ‘going behind the bushes’ may be worse evils. Urban, rural or other locations containing more buildings do not present such a dilemma.
– Numbers of visitors, especially at weekends. In places where there are fewer visitors it may be difficult to justify the capital outlay of a building, especially if there are no apparent problems on the site or its surroundings. In areas of limited size the smell and sight of previous visitors’ use of the bushes may be excessive, especially in hot weather, requiring either some small-scale facility or a regime of burying, covering or removal. On larger sites with more visitors the need for facilities becomes self-evident.
– Duration of the visit. If the majority of users come for only a short time, such as an hour’s stroll with the dog in a country park near a town, then facilities should be unnecessary. If visitors spend most of
a day at the site they will need toilet facilities, especially if refreshments are consumed.
– Distance travelled to the site. A short journey to the area reduces the need to use a toilet, while a long one usually makes use unavoidable. This is especially true if there are no obvious alternative facilities elsewhere on the route.
– Presence of water-based recreation at the area. The risks to health from polluted water are of ever-present concern. If the water is to be used for bathing, swimming, boating or similar activities then toilets are essential for hygiene purposes, and probably for changing too, although separate buildings are often appropriate (see Chapter 10).
– Presence of food outlets at the site. Some sites have food vendors who come during high-use periods. This will attract more people, and could emphasize the need for toilets, although not necessarily more than if people brought their own refreshments.
– Winter use of a site. If a site has regular use throughout the year, this may tip the balance towards providing toilets for the comfort of visitors in very cold conditions.