Restaurant to cash in on old bank’s closure

PLANS to convert an historic Hampstead bank into a restaurant have met with anger from account holders and residents

Miguel Cullen

PLANS to convert an historic Hampstead bank into a restaurant have met with anger from account holders and residents.

Lloyds TSB on Rosslyn Hill could soon be serving up food and drink rather than financial services, as the bank is losing customers and wants to move out.

Its lease on the Grade II*-listed building is running out and the landlord, Faisaltex Ltd, has applied to change it to a restaurant to keep it from falling empty.

But bank customers, as well as people who live nearby, are opposed to yet another restaurant on Rosslyn Hill's growing list of eateries.

"I'm sick and tired of them closing post offices and other amenities that are useful for people who can't get around very easily. This area seems to be overflowing with restaurants to me," said 77-year-old Joan Wainwright.

Most Read

"I've got a rotten back and I can't walk far. But there are usually longer queues at the Swiss Cottage branch of Lloyds TSB, which will be the nearest branch if this one closes."

A woman who lives in neighbouring Pilgrim's Lane said: "I live next door and we certainly don't need another restaurant. The noise, the smell from the extractor fan, the rats would all be right next to my house. It's ridiculous - apart from losing the amenity of the bank."

Linda Chung from traders' association NW3 Hampstead is also worried. She said: "It's a beautiful listed building and it ought to remain a bank. It could remain empty if it doesn't get planning permission and the lease runs out.

"All of a sudden people living next to or above a bank will be living next to a noisy restaurant."

The bank was built in 1896 by Horace Field and to this day retains the features of the original banking hall inside.

Attractive exterior features of the Edwardian baroque-style building include ornate carvings in the stone and a portico and steps down to the road.

If Faisaltex receives permission to convert the building as a restaurant, the company will sell the lease to the highest bidder, which could pave the way for another chain restaurant.

Despite the planning application being lodged last month, the branch manager for the bank called talk of the move "hype and speculation" at this stage. But he did concede he had received numerous complaints about the application.

The landlord said: "We put in the application because the bank wants to move out since they feel they are in the wrong location. They're not getting much custom.

"We are protecting our interests and we put in the application because it is a lovely, beautiful building and if it remained empty it would get vandalised."

Camden Council said any conversion to a restaurant would be subject to consultation.