Plans approved to turn former Northumberland bank into affordable homes

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Plans to convert a former bank building in a Northumberland town into affordable homes have been approved.

Glendale Gateway Trust (GGT) plans to convert the upper two floors of the former Barclays Bank on the High Street, while also trying to find a use for the ground floor.

Listed building consent for the works on the Grade II listed building, which dates back to 1863, has also been secured.

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Northumberland County Council planning officer James Hudson stated: ‘It is considered that the proposal represents an appropriate form of development that would not have a significant adverse impact on the street scene or the amenity of nearby residents.’

The former Barclays Bank building in Wooler.The former Barclays Bank building in Wooler.
The former Barclays Bank building in Wooler.

Externally, little change is proposed.

At the front it is proposed to install timber doors in the opening which previously housed the ATM machine; originally the main access to the bank.

A window opening is to be altered to access to the flats from the rear of the building. The rear access will lead out onto Butler Court, which currently services 15 social housing units, five units previously created by the GGT and the commercial premises of 25 to 31 High Street, also owned by the Trust.

Purchase and development costs for the project are in the region of £320,000 and the Glendale Gateway Trust has already successfully raised £150,000 towards this sum. It has launched a Community Bond Scheme to try and raise the remainder.

There were no objections to the application.

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The GGT approached Barclays after hearing that the building could be sold to an absent investor which might have led to another long term unused building on the High Street.

Barclays closed its Wooler branch in November 2018, leaving the town without banking services, although this is set to change soon with the arrival of Newcastle Building Society.

The GGT has a history of buying up neglected buildings to create modern and attractive affordable homes. It now owns 18 properties, most of them clustered around the town centre.

Possible uses for the ground floor are being investigated through community interaction, which will be brought forward as a separate application in due course.