Numbers of high street banks have continued to decline over recent years as customers increasingly utilise online or mobile banking facilities. These closures are however creating opportunities for other uses with strong demand from restaurants and pubs despite the ‘slow down’ in the leisure sector.

The number of planning applications submitted for the change of use of former high street banks, has increased by 10% year on year, and by 1,000% since 2014. More than a third of these applications have been for a change of use to Class A3 and A4.  

Many former banks are particularly attractive for restaurantcafé s or drinking establishments due to their central locations with high levels of footfall. Banks have been a core function of town centres for centuries and as a result, many occupy prime locations in ‘protected’ retail frontages. The prospects of changing the use of a bank (or other non retail use) to Class A3 or A4 operation within a ‘protected’ frontage is significantly greater as there is no ‘net loss’ of retail floorspace.  

The change of use of banks to commercial leisure uses, is a key indicator of how town centres are adapting their offer from functionality to experience as they battle to remain relevant in a more digital age.