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‘No’ to new Brighton bank branch
Plans for a new bank in a city centre have been blocked by councillors.
The bank said the branch would have created 30 jobs.
The committee was split, with four votes for, four against and four abstentions. Committee chairman Christopher Hawtree used his casting vote to rule against the development.
The move came despite the intervention of the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Jason Kitcat , who asked members of the committee to show more flexibility.
Officers recommended refusing the application because they said Metro Bank’s plans to raise the ceiling at the former American Express outlet by removing offices on the first floor would destroy future employment opportunities.
The site was formerly occupied by a discount bag and shoebox shop and is now empty.
Metro Bank’s head of customer relations, John Collins, said the firm remained committed to Brighton in the long term.
He said: “We are bitterly disappointed. The councillors did not seem to take on board that we will be creating employment and we were offering to take a 25-year lease.
“We have a timetable for openings and to reapply for permission to open at this site will seriously affect that. But we remain committed to Brighton in the long term.”
Councillor Kitcat said he was also disappointed.
He said: “I hope a positive way forward can be found so that the bank can open here and bring jobs to the city.”
A council spokeswoman said: “This was a difficult decision for the committee as the proposal to change the use of the unit to a bank was generally supported.
“However the proposed changes to the first floor of the building would have meant the loss of office space right in the city centre.
“This is against our local policy which seeks to retain well located offices that continue to attract occupiers.
“The applicant was unable to demonstrate sufficiently that this particular office space was genuinely redundant.”