06 April 2017 by CSJ Planning
CSJ Planning Consultants recently secured two planning consents at the former Midland Bank / HSBC on Regent Street. One planning permission allows the change of use from A2 (financial services) to A3 (food and drink) and the other permits the conversion to an A1 retail use. Both applications relate to the ground floor and basement of the building and will broaden the market appeal of the premises to prospective tenants now that the bank have relocated.
The applications both sought an ‘in principle’ change of use only, with no physical works. This caused some issues, particularly with the A3 application, as the Council were reluctant to approve a café / restaurant use without first seeing details of cooking, ventilation and extraction equipment. Obviously, this could not be provided until a tenant for the unit comes forward. Eventually, an agreement was reached on the wording of an appropriate condition to ensure the details of any plant are approved by the LPA prior to installation.
The former bank is Grade II listed and its reuse will deliver a heritage gain and benefit the wider shopping centre. It is likely that a listed building application to reconfigure the unit will be forthcoming once an end user has been identified. Hopefully, the unit will be back in use sometime during the summer.
The demise of the high street bank appears to have entered a new phase with a further round of closures over the first quarter of 2017. CSJ Planning have just been appointed in North Street, Southville to secure new active ground floor uses for another HSBC branch. If handled sensitively, such bank closures could actually stimulate the vitality and viability of shopping centres, rather than pose a threat.