NEW public toilets are to be built at the foot of England’s highest mountain in the Lake District – despite being branded a “blot on the landscape”.

National park planners voted 5-2 in favour of the new facilities for the Lake Head car park, Wasdale.

The development tabled by the National Trust will go between the trust campsite and the car park and will have timber clad walls and a pre-weathered steel sheet roof.

The area is popular with fell walkers climbing Scafell Pike and doing the Three Peaks challenge, with the valley attracting an estimated 290,000 people every year.

The application was decided at a meeting of the Lake District National Park Authority’s development control committee in Kendal on Wednesday.

Area planner Catherine Campbell told members: “The proposed building would provide toilet facilities to meet an identified need in the interests of public health. While the application site sits in a landscape sensitive to change, I consider the proposed building is acceptable due to its modest size, siting and design.”

The proposal would result in the loss of 13 trees but she said this would be mitigated by landscaping and the toilets being screened.

Lake District national park chairman Mike McKinley who lives at Wasdale, proposed that the plans be refused.

He said it was a “blot on the landscape in an iconic valley” and the building should be made with stone walls and a slate roof.

“While there is a need for toilets I don’t believe this is the answer to our prayers,” said Mr McKinley.

“I don’t think a timber building with a metal rusty roof is in anyway, shape or form recessive in the landscape. This application would result in a departure from development policy and we would be supporting development in the open countryside.”

However, it won favour with panel member Geoff Davies, of Braithwaite near Keswick. “When I first looked at this I thought it was wrong, but actually the more I have thought about it, the more I felt it has been dealt with carefully,” he said.

Panel member Hugh Branney, of Ennerdale, added: “There’s a desperate need for these toilets in Wasdale. We know there are some issues around anti-social behaviour and I think this proposal sits in really well and will be screened by trees and off the road.”

PERMISSION to build new publics toilets at Lake Head car park Wasdale has been granted today by the Lake District National Park Authority’s Development Control Committee (3 April).

Conservation charity the National Trust, who put in the application, says its great news for visitors to one of the most visited, beautiful and remote Lake District valleys. Approximately 250,000 people come each year to Wasdale, in the west of the Lake District National Park, which is home to England’s highest mountain, its deepest lake and within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Marian Silvester, the National Trust’s General Manager in the West Lakes said:

“We've worked with the Environment Agency and the Lake District National Park Authority planners and work will start on building them in September to open next Easter. In the meantime temporary (portaloo) toilets are available at Lake Head car-park.

“At Lake Head, the proposal is for 11 toilets within a 64m2 building,” added Marian.

The National Trust withdrew their planning application for new toilets at Wasdale Head, following a number of objections. They will now focus on providing good quality permanent toilets in the valley at their Lake Head car park.

Anyone wanting to spend a penny, before arriving in Wasdale, can find toilets at Eskdale Green, Gosforth, Ravenglass and Seascale, provided by the National Park Authority.