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Next step for former Stowmarket NatWest agreed

PUBLISHED: 16:41 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 08:43 27 September 2018

The former Natwest in Stowmarket. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

The former Natwest in Stowmarket. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Archant

Plans to give a new lease of life to the former Stowmarket NatWest have moved a step closer – with hopes for a restaurant and community space at the top of the list.

Mid Suffolk District Council took on the building in Market Place, after NatWest closed its doors there for the final time in September 2017.

Talks have been underway to pair it with the John Peel Centre behind NatWest as part of a plan to complement the leisure and tourism offering there.

The council submitted a planning application over the summer for a change of use to food and drink, assembly and leisure, which was unanimously approved at Wednesday’s development control committee.

Councillor Nick Gowrley, Mid Suffolk District Council’s cabinet member for assets and investment, said: “With this permission we’re one step closer to guaranteeing the future of the former NatWest building.

“By changing it to a mixed uses building, we have the opportunity to tailor the use of the old bank to match what Stowmarket needs.

“We’re really excited about the future of the building and what it means for the town and will be sharing more details of our plans soon.”

While no concrete plans have been put forward so far, the planning committee only needed to approve a change of use to get the ball rolling.

The report by planning officers said that the vision is to use the premises to broaden the leisure, tourism, entertainment and dining offering in the town, and should become a facility the whole town could enjoy.

Andrew Stringer, from the John Peel Centre, confirmed talks between the venue and the council were ongoing, with decisions regarding the venue’s involvement imminent.

Lesley Mayes, ward councillor for Stowmarket central, said: “Everybody is fully in agreement that this premises should end up being used for the community to visit, and we are hoping to have a high class restaurant if at all possible, and we are hoping to have workshops or different community groups be able to use that building.

“I have only heard good reports from people who are only too pleased to see that bank not remain empty and a blot on our landscape.”

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