Planners refuse permission for Woodbridge bank conversion when current lease expires

Woodbridge Thoroughfare

Woodbridge Thoroughfare

Plans to potentially convert a high street bank into a restaurant have been blocked by district planners.

Owners of the Lloyds Bank building in The Thoroughfare, Woodbridge, wanted permission to change its use when the current occupier’s lease expires.

But Suffolk Coastal called the plan “unacceptable” and said that some of the suggested refurbishment could harm the historic fabric of the Grade II listed building.

Permission was asked for the syndicate that owns the building to eventually offer it to a wider market. It said plans illustrating its use as a restaurant had been submitted only to support the application in principle, and to demonstrate that the building could be converted without any adverse impact.

But planners said the application failed to show that conversion of the building into a restaurant would not harm its historic assets.

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The council said: “The removal of the vault and its door, as indicated on the submitted plans, would be destructive of historic fabric and cause substantial harm to the significance of the building.”

It said other potential impacts could arise from the removal of internal partitions and the installation of kitchen fittings.

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An absence of information on odour control measures and precise opening hours could also lead to undue disturbance for nearby residents, said planners.

Crown Place Residents Association had lodged its opposition to the proposal, calling it “totally unsuitable”.

Woodbridge Town Council’s planning committee also objected, saying: “We wish to retain retail outlets in the main retail centre of the town and feel there is already adequate coffee shops and restaurants.”

Le Sage Associates, the chartered architects employed to assess the potential of the property for use as a restaurant, said the proposals were made only in principle and did not adversely affect the existing character and appearance of the building.

A supporting statement made on behalf of the applicant’s letting agent, Ratcliffes of Mayfair, said permission for change-of-use would widen the potential for the landlord to successfully re-let the property “for the overall benefit of the local community and visitors to Woodbridge town centre.”

But Suffolk Coastal said its use as a bank contributed to the significance of the listed building and the character of the conservation area in which it stands.

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