Former historic bank building to become restaurant

A historic former bank building in Liverpool city centre has been given the go-ahead to be converted into a restaurant.

Plans to convert the former Bank of England site at 31 Castle Street into a new dining venue were signed off by Liverpool Council’s planning committee this morning. The proposals will bring the site back into life having been left vacant for the best part of two decades.

The building was famously occupied in 2015 by a group called Love Activists, who called for it to be used as a centre to support homeless people.

However, the identity of the prospective new occupants of the historic site remain under wraps. Plans were submitted by JSM Group to convert the ground floor into a restaurant/bar use along with commercial kitchens. 

The basement level is to provide further kitchens and storage, whilst the first floor is to be used for storage, customer toilets and staff break and changing spaces. The second and third floor are to remain unused, and the rear enclosed bullion yard is also to be converted to a restaurant/bar.

Fiona Wroot, agent on behalf of JSM, told the city council’s planning committee how the building had been “left vacant for far too long” and the proposals would give a new lease of life to a “missing piece in the development of the city.”

According to a planning assessment carried out by Liverpool Council officers, the “commanding” site was designed by Charles Robert Cockerell. It added, “Its scale and powerful design language evidences the importance of Liverpool as a highly influential centre of commerce and trade which led to the founding of this first regional outpost of the Bank of England outside of London. 

“Internally the building has an austere character, a contrast with many other banks of Liverpool where wealth is flaunted with fine marbles, gilding and lavish decoration.” As The Old Bank of England building is a Grade 1 listed building, only certain alterations will be permitted.

The former bank building is the latest site on Castle Street the JSM Group has secured planning permission for. Last year, proposals were signed off for the former Natwest building just metres away from the Bank of England site, to be repurposed as a Pho Vietnamese bar and restaurant, as well as a 100-bed hotel above.

The group has also made a bid to convert the former Lomax club – which was once graced by musical acts including Oasis and Radiohead – into new apartments. A decision is due on those plans in the coming months.


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