Ivy secures planning permission for city centre restaurant

Liverpool has been “handpicked” to open a world-famous restaurant brand favoured by the rich and famous.

The long-unoccupied former Bank of England building on Castle Street is to be brought back to life as Troia Restaurants has secured planning permission to bring the Ivy brand to the city. The city council confirmed it gave the go-ahead for the brand to move forward with its plans on Monday.

The former bank building is now on course to be the Ivy’s third North West venue.

Plans to convert the former into a new dining venue were signed off by Liverpool Council’s planning committee last August with speculation rife over who would take over the location. The proposals are bringing the site back to life having been left vacant for the best part of two decades.

The new venue would form part of the Ivy Collection, a series of spin-off restaurants the firm has opened since 2014. The brand was first linked with a move to the city in 2022 when designs to take over a location at 7 Water Street fell away and became the home of Argentinian chain, Gaucho.

The Castle Street bank 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. Plans were submitted by JSM Group in 2022 to convert the ground floor into a restaurant/bar use along with commercial kitchens.

Troia Restaurants and its agents Pegasus Group visited the site with council officials in December 2023 and April this year to discuss changes to the building. According to a planning document, Liverpool Council welcomed the interest in the long-empty former bank.

It said, “Both the applicant and the council are keen to work together to ensure that the building is brought back into an active use whilst preserving, enhancing, and respecting the special interest and significance of the building.”

Proposed Castle Street elevation. Credit: Pumphouse Designs

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 are permitted.

New documents indicate a new fabric awning embossed with The Ivy name would be installed, alongside a brass backlit sign and four planters. A free-standing menu sign would also be situated outside the building.

The planning statement added how bringing the Ivy to the city will have benefits for both the brand and Liverpool. It said: “The Ivy pride themselves on the inimitable service and vibrant surroundings for which has been revered to a select group of upmarket brasseries, neighbourhood cafes and Asian cuisine restaurants.

“Each restaurant within The Ivy Collection is designed to deliver a memorable experience that is synonymous with The Ivy’s unique style. Whilst originating in Central London, The Ivy are expanding to a number of handpicked locations across the UK and are looking to locate in the heart of Liverpool City Centre.”

It is proposed the Ivy Brasserie will occupy the site, opening seven days a week offering full service from breakfast to dinner. The statement added, “The menu will feature contemporary and classic signature dishes from the Ivy’s extensive menu and has been designed to meet the needs and desires of any occasion.

“The Ivy is a destination in itself. Customers will travel to Liverpool to visit the restaurant which will subsequently attract additional money, investment, and visitors into the city.”

Lead image: GOOGLE

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