Bank wins battle to move into Yarmouth’s Burtons

Lloyds bank next door to the clothing store Burton and Evans in Great YarmouthPicture: James Bass

Lloyds bank next door to the clothing store Burton and Evans in Great YarmouthPicture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

A high street bank has been given permission to move to a prime retail site in Great Yarmouth – six months after traders fighting the plans thought they had won the battle to stop it.

When Lloyds TSB revealed plans to move into the adjoining Burtons Evans store in King Street, leading traders said the relocation of a bank into a large city centre unit would 'totally overbalance' the town and damage the vitality of the Market Place shopping centre.

The application was turned down by Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC).

But, last week Lloyds won its appeal against the decision and secured permission to move into a building previously set aside for retail use only.

The bank has also confirmed it will consolidate both its Market Place and Hall Quay branches into the Burton and Evans unit. Customers of the Hall Quay branch were sent letters last year informing them the branch was closing.

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When it first laid out its ambitions, Lloyds said its move would add to the 'vitality and viability' of the Market Place and 'complement' existing businesses.

This week, a spokesman for the banking group said: 'We are delighted that our plan to move our Great Yarmouth branches to the King Street premises has been approved. 'The move is part of our commitment to our branch network which plays a vital role in serving our customers.

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'By investing in the branch we will be able to give our customers in Great Yarmouth a more welcoming and comfortable environment to carry out their banking with improved access to branch staff and services.'

Explaining the decision to overturn the refusal, the planning inspector, who paid a visit to Yarmouth before the hearing last Thursday, said: 'Economic activity should be encouraged where town centres are in decline.

'In my opinion, the proposed bank would appear as one of a normal range of services found within a town centre in an area where retail uses clearly predominate.

'Being situated on the Market Place and close to a main entrance to the Market Gate Shopping Centre, I do not consider that the proposal would deter people from visiting this part of the town.'

Bruce Sturrock, chairman of Palmers department store in Market Place and chair of the town centre partnership, spoke out against the move when it came before the borough council's planning committee.

Speaking to the Mercury after the Lloyds appeal was won, Mr Sturrock said: 'I'm obviously disappointed.

'However, I want to stress that I've got nothing against banks coming into the town centre. We welcomed them investing in the town centre.

'What we were opposed to was them moving into these particular retail premises. They are very central and quite large sites that we felt should have been filled by retail.'

• No one from the Arcadia Group, which owns Burton and Evans, was available to comment before the Mercury went to press. It is not yet known if Burton and Evans will move elsewhere or pull out of the town completely.

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