Bank is given the all clear to strip out fittings from branch as closure looms

The St Ives branch of National Westminster Bank. Picture: GOOGLE

The St Ives branch of National Westminster Bank. Picture: GOOGLE - Credit: Archant

A bank has been given the go-ahead to strip out the fittings in its branch in St Ives, which is set to close in June.

The Royal Bank of Scotland had to apply for listed building consent to remove the signs, cash machine and non-original features from the National Westminster in the town centre.

Huntingdonshire District Council has now approved the move.

National Westminster has blamed a change in the way people bank for the decision to pull the shutters down on the branch, which will close on June 25. It will leave customers with a journey of nearly seven-and-a-half miles to the nearest branch in Huntingdon.

The Grade-II listed bank was built for the former London County and Westminster Bank in around 1910-1912.

Planning documents submitted to the district council said the bank wanted to remove signage and the cash machine from outside the branch and non-original fixtures and fittings from the inside with the aim of selling the building to the landlord.

It said the removals would cause no harm to the original building and that the appearance of the branch would not be affected, with reinstatement work being carried out.

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In its ruling the council said the work was acceptable in principle.

It said: “The signage and the ATM machine are standard, modern commercial fittings for the former use of the building as a bank, have no architectural or historic interest and do not contribute to the significance of the listed building or conservation area.

“For that reason, the proposed removal is not considered harmful to these heritage assets.”

It added: “The signage is fixed to, and the ATM machine built into, the front elevation which is decorative with surviving historic features and decorative brickwork, so it is particularly important to ensure that proposed works to the building following removal of the signage are carried out using sympathetic methods and materials.”

When the Hunts Post revealed last December that the branch was closing National Westminster said that the number of customers using its banks had dropped by 40 per cent since 2014 and over the same period the number of online transactions had gone up by 41 per cent.

At St Ives transactions had fallen by 30 per cent since 2012, with only 60 customers a week and 65 per cent banking digitally.