Planners approve restaurant at Grade I-listed bank

City planners approve project to convert Grade I-listed former Bank of England building in Liverpool city centre into high-end restaurant despite objections. Tony McDonough reports.

Bank of England
Grade I-listed former Bank of England building in Castle Street, Liverpool. Picture by Tony McDonough


Developer JSM Group has secured planning consent to convert the Grade I-listed former Bank of England building in Liverpool into a restaurant and private dining facility.

Despite objections from local Labour councillors Nick Small and Christine Banks to part of the scheme, Liverpool City Council’s planning committee gave the green light to the project following the recommendation of planning officers.

In May this year JSM’s property and assets manager, Matt Crebbin, told LBN there was interest from a number of restaurant operators in the Castle Street building, which has sat on the corner of Castle Street and Cook Street for 175 years.

In September 2022 the developer secured planning consent to create a new hotel in the Grade II-listed former NatWest Bank building across the road in Castle Street. This multi-million pound project will see a hotel with 92 rooms and a rooftop extension.

JSM, which owns a number of properties in the city, first announced its plans for the Bank of England site in 2023. Matt said in May: “The Bank Of England is likely to become a restaurant with private dining options. We have interested parties.”

Once described as a “masterpiece of Victorian architecture” the Bank of England building in Castle Street was completed in 1848. It was designed by Charles Robert Cockerell and built in a neoclassical style.

Its features are influenced by a number of styles including Greek, Roman and Renaissance. It was Grade I-listed in 1952. The Bank of England left in 1987 and it was occupied by the TSB Bank for a few years in the 1990s.

In April 2015 it was occupied for almost two weeks by political activists, known as Love Activists, who turned it into an illegal homeless shelter. They were eventually evicted by the police. The building has remained empty ever since.

JSM’s plans would certainly fit in with the Castle Street area which has seen a surge in new restaurants and bars over the past few years.

However, while Cllrs Small and Banks supported the conversion in principle, saying it would “add to the value of the night time economy”, they had concerns about a disused car parking space at the rear being used as a bar in the summer months.

They added they were “very concerned about the impact this element of the proposed would have on neighbouring residents living on Sweeting Street in relation to noise and disturbance”.

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