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Brighton and Hove council leader urges planners to approve new bank
Plans for a new bank in a city centre that would create 30 jobs could be blocked by councillors.
The leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Jason Kitcat, has stepped in to ask members of the local authority’s planning committee to show more flexibility on proposals for a branch of Metro Bank in North Street, close to Churchill Square.
The bank hopes to shake up the high street lending market when it opens a branch in Brighton.
It has asked the council for permission to raise the ceiling at the former American Express outlet by removing offices on the first floor of the building.
The site is currently occupied by discount bag and shoebox on the corner of North Street and Western Road.
Eliminate Planning officers say this would eliminate future employment opportunities.
Councillor Kitcat, who is a Green Party member for Regency Ward, which includes the Churchill Square area, has written to officers to ask them to change their minds when they consider the plans at a committee meeting on July 18.
In a letter to planning chiefs Martin Randall and Jeanette Walsh, Coun Kitcat said he very much wants to see the space improved and new competition in the local banking market.
He said: “The reasons for refusal, apparently, are fairly theoretical regarding minor loss of retail and office space despite tenants and landlord supporting the changes.”
Coun Kitcat told The Argus: “The fact that Metro Bank wants to open a branch in Brighton and Hove is a feather in the cap for the city.
“It will create jobs and the bank will lend to small businesses in the area. I would like to see planning officers supporting economic development in the city.”
Andy Winter, the chief executive at Brighton Housing Trust in London Road, said the charity had written to the council to support the bank’s proposals.
He said: “We occupy some of the offices in this property and will move out if the bank goes ahead.
“I think the bank will help improve footfall in the area and I hope it will offer good financial products to our clients.”
Metro Bank director Mike Brierley said: “We’re looking forward to meeting with the planning committee next week and demonstrating the benefits that Metro Bank will bring to the Brighton community.
“We’re dedicated to the local communities around all of our stores, and we can’t wait to offer Brightonians the high levels of customer service we’re recognised for.”