Mayor plans for more public toilets to be built across London

28 November 2017
  • London Plan to say new loos should reflect diversity of the city
  • Particular need for more toilets for people with profound and multiple impairments

More public toilets should be built across the capital and they should reflect the diversity of the city, according to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

For the first time, the Mayor’s London Plan, due to be published later this week, contains detailed policy guidance on the provision of new free publicly accessible toilets in commercial developments.

The London Plan – the capital’s overall planning strategy – says that more public toilets must be built in shops, leisure facilities and large public areas and that they should be suitable for all users, including disabled people and families with young children.

Sadiq believes that public toilets are a vital facility, both for Londoners and visitors to the city. They are especially important for certain groups including older people, people with babies and young children, disabled people, and pregnant women, as well as tourists and visitors who may be less familiar with local amenities.

Public toilets can support businesses in boosting customer footfall, by giving people more confidence to move around the city and spend more time in a place or space, as well as helping to keep London clean.

Earlier this year, half of respondents to an Age UK survey of over-75s said too few loos was a "regular" problem when going out shopping. 

Sadiq also wants to see more ‘Changing Places Toilets’, which are designed to be suitable for people with profound and multiple impairments, some people with learning disabilities and people who require the assistance of a carer, included in all major new developments.

The Mayor is concerned that some Londoners and visitors to the city are limited in terms of where they can visit and how long they can spend somewhere because the capital does not have enough appropriate toilet facilities.

This issue is a particularly problem for people with profound and multiple impairments, and some people with learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people.

Changing Places toilets are different to standard accessible toilets as they are built for people who may have limited mobility and need specific equipment or the assistance of carers. These toilets are larger than standard disabled toilets and have additional features including a height adjustable changing bench, height adjustable sink, toilet designed for assisted use, and a hoist.

For the first time, the London Plan also calls for the provision of gender-neutral toilets, to help trans and non-binary people feel more comfortable.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I have vowed to be a Mayor for all Londoners so I am determined to ensure that everyone has the ability to enjoy our great city to its fullest.

“Toilets are a vital public service and can help to shape the experience of the capital for those who live here and for those visiting. We need a range of toilets that reflect the incredible diversity of this city – giving people the confidence to move around London with dignity.

Chief Executive of, Age UK London, Paul Goulden said: “It is reassuring to see that the Mayor’s London Plan has committed to building more accessible public toilets across the capital. We want as many older Londoners as possible to be able to move confidently around their city without restriction and this pledge should go a long way to improving their experiences when out and about in London.

“The commitment to building more Changing Places toilets is especially encouraging, as many older people contend with limited mobility or require the support of a carer. We look forward to the provision of the new free publicly accessible toilets across the city.

Chief Executive of Stonewall, Ruth Hunt, said: “We're pleased the Mayor has used the London Plan to call on councils to create more gender neutral toilets, and so help meet the needs of all Londoners and the city’s many visitors. Gender-neutral toilets are a practical solution for many people, for many reasons and it's a powerful demonstration of acceptance that has benefits for everyone.

“But this move isn’t just practical, it’s symbolic. By introducing gender-neutral toilets, planners can show that London is a city that cherishes its diverse population.”

Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, Robert Meadowcroft, said: “The Mayor has rightly recognised that we need Changing Places toilets so that profoundly disabled people won’t face a choice between exclusion or changing on the floor of a public toilet. Muscular Dystrophy UK and the Changing Places Consortium welcomes this positive move and are keen to work with London’s train stations, shopping centres, cultural institutions and attractions to get more facilities built and make sure the city is accessible for all.”

The Plan also calls for ongoing surveillance, management and cleaning of toilet facilities to be secured and agreed at the planning stage to ensure long-term provision is achievable.

The London Plan also calls for developers to install free drinking water fountains where appropriate. Areas to be considered for water fountains include town centres, shopping malls, parks and squares.

Case study

Lauren West, 26, a Powerchair user from London, relies on fully-accessible Changing Places toilets (which are designed for people with mobility problems).

She said: "As someone who can only use Changing Places toilets due to needing a hoist, I know just how life-changing they are.

"I have lived in London for the past four years and I was excited to know that certain areas of London have Changing Places toilets. For example, in the summer it is fantastic to spend time on the South Bank and it makes the day so much more relaxing knowing I don’t need to restrict fluids as there is a Changing Places toilet at the Tate Modern.

"However, other areas aren’t so good. Oxford Street, Europe’s busiest shopping street, doesn’t have one. Greenwich, a London tourist hot spot, also doesn’t have one. It’s disappointing having to limit where I visit just because of the provision of Changing Places toilets."