A FORMER Grade II listed bank building could be turned into a café and bar if planning permission is granted.

The former HSBC branch in Northallerton High Street was closed in August as part of a national cutbacks by the bank, despite protests by residents. Two other banks, TSB and Virgin Money, formerly Yorkshire Bank, have since announced they are also closing branches in the town.

A planning application has now been submitted to Hambleton District Council for a change of use of the HSBC building, which is in the heart of the town's retail area, to a café and bar. The scheme has been submitted by Loungers UK Limited.

On its website, the company says: "Loungers is an operator of café/ bar/ restaurants across England and Wales under two distinct but complementary brands, Lounge and Cosy Club. It is the only growing all-day operator of scale in the UK, with a strong reputation for value for money and sites that offer something for everyone regardless of age, demographic or gender. The company operates successfully in a diverse range of different sites and locations across England and Wales.

"Loungers was founded in Bristol in 2002 by three friends who wanted to create a neighbourhood café-bar that they would want to go to. That focus on hospitality, comfort and familiarity remains at the core of the company, driven by an independent culture and focus on the local community."

As part of the change of use application for the building, which was built in the mid 18th Century with 19th Century alterations, there is also an application for a premises licence to sell alcohol between 10am and midnight for consumption on and off the premises.

Agents for the company say in the planning application: "The architectural and historical interest of this building is significant, due to its age, construction type and location. The site is a significant asset to the surrounding area as it holds a prominent presence upon the High Street. The architectural character and appearance is typical of buildings of this and earlier periods, signifying solidity and respectability relating to the building’s use. Its location is of significance to the building’s heritage, located within a busy commercial area and within the central Conservation Area.

"In terms of internal alterations, the proposals involve fit out of the premises for use as a Lounge café. The works, as a whole, would not have an impact on the historic fabric of the building. We believe the proposed works would respect the buildings original features. It is concluded that the proposals would have less than significant harm to the listed building and the Conservation Area."