What’s happened to Suffolk’s former banks?
- Credit: GREGG BROWN / MARIAM GHAEMI / AR
As a former Suffolk bank has been given a new lease of life as a community hub we look at what’s happened to the county’s other former banks.
Concerns are often raised when a Suffolk town loses its banks, many places in the county are now without one altogether.
But what happens next? What becomes of the empty buildings left on Suffolk high streets?
Saxmundham - The former Barclays bank in Saxmundham, has been renamed Sax'cess House and is now being run by
Access Community Trust, a company which works to reduce social exclusion within communities.
Aldeburgh - Barclays was the final bank to close its doors in Aldeburgh but the shop space did not remain empty for long. The building is now home to the Seasalt clothing shop.
Woodbridge - The former Natwest bank on Cumberland Street had stood empty for quite a while when plans were approved to turn it into a restaurant. It was revealed in November that the new establishment would be called Blue Salt.
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The restaurant will seat around 35 to 40 customers and will cook high quality meats with an American or Mediterranean flavour.
Felixstowe - Another Natwest, this bank on the corner of Hamilton Road and York Road in the town was up for sale in November with planning permission for change of use to a restaurant. Little has happened on the site since.
Bungay - The former Lloyds Bank in Market Place, Bungay is set to get a new lease of life after plans were approved in December to turn the buildings into flats and retail units.
Stowmarket - A number of Santander branches closed their doors in 2019. One of these was in Market Place, Stowmarket. The bank was put up for sale and was said to be under offer but it is not clear what has happened to it since.
Newmarket - Another Santander that closed its doors was in High Street, Newmarket. Plans have since been submitted for a change of use of the building from bank to retail. In the planning application notes it was hoped that the building could be refurbished to secure a future tenant. The plans were approved at the end of November.
Halesworth - The Barclays bank in Halesworth was the final bank to leave the town back in November 2018. Since then the property has been bought up by its neighbours and an application was made to remove some of the 20th century extensions to the rear of the banking hall and generally try to restore the building to how it was in the past. There will still be a commercial building within the site. The plans have been given approval but some areas remain reserved.
Eye - Barclays was again the final bank to leave the town of Eye, closing its doors in September 2018. Plans have since been put in to turn the site into a health and wellbeing centre run by The Blossom Charity. The charity helps women to make their lives better. Approval was granted in August 2019.
Bury St Edmunds - The RBS in Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds closed in August 2018. Since then plans have been submitted to West Suffolk Council to turn the building into an Italian restaurant. A final decision on the plans has yet to be made by the council.
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Norwich and Peterborough
When the Norwich and Peterborough building society merged with the Yorkshire Building Society a number of branches closed down. A number of these were in Suffolk. So far no plans have been submitted for former sites at Leiston, Bungay, Ipswich and Southwold.