The decision to turn a former town centre bank into a bar has taken a step closer as the planning process gears up a pace.

Plans to transform the old Halifax branch in Beccles into a bar have been submitted to East Suffolk Council by Matthew Mills and Cloe Nelson.

The former Halifax branch in the town has been vacant since the bank closed its doors in July 2022.

The applicants are applying to change the use of the building from a bank into a bar, making "minor" internal adjustments to create space for a bar and permission for signage externally.

East Suffolk Council say "determination" on the planning application will be made by Thursday, April 4.

This means that by that date the council will decide if the application must be debated by a planning committee or just be approved by a planning officer instead.

The applicants have filed a separate application for listed building consent to make the changes to the grade II listed building.

The planning statement argued that the bar, called The Taproom, would "create footfall" in the town centre for the benefit of other shops.

The documents say there are "very few" residential properties close to the building and there will be "no alcohol consumption" outside of the building as the site will be "contained to the building itself".

The same applicants had applied for an alcohol licence to serve drinks from the grade II listed building in December, which has since been approved.

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Operation hours are proposed as follows (by the applicant’s approved alcohol licence):
• Monday-Saturday – 12:00 – 23:00
• Sundays – 12:00 – 22:00

East Anglian Daily Times: The new bar would be next to Durrants in Market SquareThe new bar would be next to Durrants in Market Square (Image: Bruno Brown)

Beccles Town Council supported the application and stated they have no objection to the plans.

One resident who lives close to the old bank did list several reasons why they were objecting to the proposal.

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Among them were concerned about antisocial behaviour, noise pollution, how plans would impact the "character" of the town, and parking issues.

East Anglian Daily Times: The Halifax bank branch in Beccles closed down in July 2022 and has been vacant sinceThe Halifax bank branch in Beccles closed down in July 2022 and has been vacant since (Image: Google)

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Suffolk County Council Highways department recommended an objection to the plans over concerns about how the business will impact the one-way street it is on.

An East Suffolk Council spokesperson said: “The determination deadline is Thursday 4 April, and the application will be assessed against the relevant planning policies.

"All comments received from the public will be considered before the process to determine the application is confirmed.”