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A loo with a view: Couple who were so desperate for a house they converted £15k public toilet



By Chris Brooke

Last updated at 7:42 AM on 4th May 2010




They spent a lot more than a penny doing it up, but turning the public toilets into a home was a true labour of love.


For nearly a century the Victorian WC was used as a loo by visitors to the beach at Scarborough.


Now the distinctive building has been transformed by Tracy Woodhouse and her partner Graham Peck into a cosy house, with magnificent views overlooking the North Sea.


The Gents is now the lounge and the Ladies is the bedroom and en suite bathroom.


article-1271229-09687529000005DC-919_634x433.jpg Dream home: Tracey Woodhouse and partner Graham Peck have turned the £15,000 former public toilet into a cosy house


Now named Lookout, the single storey building, built into the cliff overlooking the resort's famous North Bay, is widely admired by local residents who have witnessed its reincarnation.


Miss Woodhouse, 45, said:'Some people joke about it. At work they'll say things like, "Oh yes, you're the couple who live in a lavatory."


'But we now have a lovely little house with a sea view that used to be a loo. We understand the amusement it causes. It tickles us, too.'


The public loo, which became an ammunition store during the war, was closed down in the 1990s and for a few years became a seasonal cafe.


When the lease became available five years ago, the couple, both factory workers, decided it would make a perfect home. A local architect produced plans which maintained the character and style of the building and the council backed the scheme.



article-1271229-09687A15000005DC-441_634x421.jpg Enviable position: The Lookout has stunning views out over the North Bay in Scarborough


'They gave us planning permission and praised the idea,' she said. 'They called it the building's renaissance.'


The couple spent £15,000 on the remaining seven years of the existing lease and later negotiated a new lease with another 21 years to run for £1,800 a year.

They also spent around £35,000 refurbishing and rebuilding the property themselves in their spare time.


After filling six skips with the rubble and the old drains of the toilets, they set about rebuilding from top to bottom.


They had to strengthen the oak-beamed ceiling with a steel girder, modernise the plumbing, electrics and ventilation and add damp-proofing and insulation.


The couple installed underfloor gas heating, patio doors and windows, and created a bathroom and one double bedroom with a bay view which is shared by the lounge and the adjoining kitchen.


article-1271229-09687B96000005DC-93_634x404.jpg Modern: The up-to-date kitchen in the toilet-turned-home of Tracey Woodhouse and Graham Peck




article-1271229-09687B8E000005DC-838_634x421.jpg Bedroom: The former WC has a double bedroom, kitchen and lounge as well stunning views of North Bay


Mr Peck has now turned his attention to the garden. 'The council said we could fence off as much land as we liked because it would reduce their grass-cutting,' he said. 'This spring and summer I'm hoping for our first full show of colour, assuming the bulbs and plants withstand the wind and salt-spray.'


And the project has made them new friends. He said:'During the site work, a lot of people stopped and asked if we were opening a new cafe. When we told them we'd be living here the interest increased and any number of folk who've been visiting Scarborough for years would call for a progress report.


'Some have since become friends and others are curious to discover such an unusual home on the cliffside. We can be watching TV or washing the dishes and suddenly a face will peer through the window. I don't know who's more surprised, them or us.


'We don't mind because we appreciate that in one form or another this little building has been a focal point of the North Bay since the 19th century. What we didn't expect was people wanting to buy our home. We've received two or three offers already.'


article-1271229-096871B3000005DC-66_634x392.jpg Boarded up: The delapidated public toilet before being bought and converted


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