A decision will be taken this week on plans to convert a high street’s landmark bank building into 22 homes.
The scheme for the empty former Lloyds Bank in Shields Road in Byker, Newcastle, is the latest development in a trend which has seen the end for a string of institutions, such as banks and department stores, which were once the backbone of North East shopping streets.
The three-storey imposing sandstone bank in Shields Road, which was built in 1904 but has been empty for seven years, is on the city council’s Local List of heritage asset buildings.
“During this time there have been no planning inquiries or other planning interest in the building,” say planners.
“The proposal is seeking to secure a sustainable long term use for the building together with restoration of those significant elements of its structure.” Planners are advising city councillors to back the scheme when it comes before them on Friday.
Also on Shields Road is the former Parrish’s department store, which is now used for student accommodation.
And the 1910 Beavans department store on Shields Road has been converted into flats.
Elsewhere in Newcastle, on premier thoroughfares such as Collingwood Street, Mosley Street and Grey Street, former banks and commerce buildings have become bars and restaurants.
The 1930s Co-op department store in Newgate Street has just been sold for hotel, leisure and retail use and the old Wenger’s store in Grainger Street is now a Yates’s bar.
Conservation architect Cyril Winskell, who has led townscape studies of Newcastle and Gateshead, said: “ Towns and cities are always changing. Such change is ongoing - it never stops. It changes constantly.
“With buildings like banks and department stores you can see the pattern of change.
“The uses of buildings change as society and the facilities it needs also change.”
Mr Winskell said older department stores had gone out of use as the retail trade changed, including out of town shopping and shopping malls, and hypermarkets.
“Now it is reverting back as supermarket chains return to the corner shop idea and are opening small convenience stores,” he said.
“Banking has also changed radically, with online.”
Mr Winskell said change had also hit other sectors, such as religion, with churches used for a variety of other purposes, including housing, as congregations have shrunk.
“The exception which proves the rule is sport, with football grounds like St James’ Park and Anfield at Liverpool remaining and still packed out. But at least the current trend is to reuse buildings whereas after the last war the trend was for wholesale change and comprehensive redevelopment.”