A proposal to change the use of a west Suffolk town centre bank to a restaurant has been deemed lawful by a council.

The Carolgate Friendly Society sought a lawful development certificate from West Suffolk Council for the change of use of Lloyds Bank at 48 High Street in Newmarket.

In an application submitted on February 5, the Mayfair-based company proposed to transform the bank into a restaurant/coffee shop.

The application form submitted to West Suffolk Council stated: "As the bank will shortly be closing and vacating the property the landlord requires the flexibility to market the property to a broader range of retailers." 

No further details on the proposed conversion of the property were available on West Suffolk Council's online planning portal, apart from a block plan detailing the outline of the site at 48 High Street.

Of the plans, Newmarket Town Council said: "The Committee voiced no objection; however, the Committee have a preference for existing bank usage to continue."

On Wednesday, the council granted a Certificate of Proposed Lawful Use or Development for the plan. 

The officer report read: "The proposed change of use from a bank under Class E to a restaurant/coffee shop under Class E complies with the provisions set out in the order and there are no other factors or restrictions that would prevent the proposed change of use without permission from the Local Planning Authority."

The officer report stated that two previous applications were granted for the change of use from a bank to a restaurant but these were never implemented.

A lawful development certificate is a legal document that states the lawfulness of a building's use.

Lloyds Bank is currently still open in the building. 

A Lloyds Bank spokesperson: "We haven't made any announcements about the Newmarket branch and, if anything were to change, our colleagues and customers would be the first to know." 

Newmarket has lost several banks in recent years, including Santander in May 2019, HSBC in September 2022 and Barclays in June 2023. 

Remaining banks include Lloyds and NatWest, as well as a branch of building society Nationwide.