CONCERNS have been raised after it emerged that Barclays Bank may be attempting to secure one of Newcastle city centre's premier retail pitches.
Nebusiness understands that the bank is currently the preferred tenant for the former Zavvi store on Northumberland Street.
The music retailer vacated the 17,000sq ft store, which is part of the Monument Mall shopping complex at the southern end of the pedestrianised shopping street, earlier this year. The store was one of more than 30 to shut when the company went into administration as one of the first retail casualties of the recession.
It has remained empty since but Barclays Bank is now understood to be close to securing a deal to rent the premises.
However, some members of Newcastle’s commercial property community have expressed dismay at the potential move on what is classed as a prime retailing site on the city’s most popular shopping street.
One senior Tyneside property figure said: “Prime sites such as this should only be used for retailing.
“There are secondary sites at the top end of the street which are designated for banking and finance and there is no need to dilute the existing retail offering.
“The Monument Mall is exclusively retail and it needs another retailer in its most prominent location to anchor its offering.
“I believe any such move would have a negative effect on the whole of Northumberland Street’s retailing profile.” Barclays is believed to be the preferred tenant of Monument Mall’s owner, St Martins property, the international property investment company owned by the Kuwaiti Government.
A spokesman for St Martins said: “We are considering a number of different options for the unit and at this stage cannot comment further.”
A Barclays spokeswoman said that “it regularly monitors the property market for good sites”, and would not comment further.
Prime retail pitches on Northumberland Street are currently going for about £325 per sq ft and Barclays may be offering in the region of £350 per sq ft.
If Barclays gets the nod from St Martins it would then have to seek planning permission from Newcastle City Council to alter the classification for business use from A1 (retailing) to A2 (financial services).
Barclays currently has a number of branches in the city centre, including one at the northern end of Northumberland Street and one on Grainger Street.