Loftus residents have been given “an early Christmas present” with news a council has bought an historic Grade II-listed building.
Redcar and Cleveland Council has exchanged contracts to purchase the former Barclays Bank building, located in the heart of the Market Place, at a cost of £150,000.
The intention is to transform the three-storey building, which has been vacant since 2017, into high-quality tourist accommodation and to bring back vital banking services to the town.
With the A174 passing directly through the middle of the town, and 5,000 vehicles passing through daily, Loftus could potentially have a thriving visitor economy.
“Our vision is to transform Loftus into a modern market town, attracting new businesses and retaining existing ones, and to offer new opportunities for local people,” explained Cllr Mary Lanigan, the leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, who represents the Loftus ward.
“We want to make sure people come to visit and stay here in Loftus, we want to create jobs for local people and we want our businesses to thrive.
“Plans are still in motion for the building, but it is our intention to bring back a form of banking or post office service, and to provide high-quality accommodation for visitors staying in the town.
“We wanted this news to be announced as a Christmas present to our residents, and more concrete plans will be drawn up in the New Year.”
It was announced by central government in August that Loftus was to benefit from the Future High Streets Fund – a £1 billion pot dedicated for high streets up and down the country.
This purchase will support the council’s bid to re-energise and transform Loftus High Street.
Cllr Wayne Davies, cabinet member for economic development at the council and fellow Loftus councillor, said: “We are so pleased this building will be brought into public ownership. It is a real positive step demonstrating our commitment to Loftus and East Cleveland.
“This high street is at the heart of the Loftus community and we want to make sure it is a vibrant place where people want to go.
“The substantial number of people travelling through the town could all be potential visitors and customers. It is crucial that the facilities and infrastructure are there for them and our residents.
“Since losing Barclays bank, the businesses in Loftus have struggled with a declining footfall onto the high street, so we are endeavouring to not only bring a banking facility into Loftus, but return home the Saxon Princess exhibition to help reignite the town’s offer to locals and visitors, making it much more sustainable for the future.”
The next steps for the council are immediate maintenance works to make the building safe and to consult local community groups in the New Year as plans develop.
CPNE has negotiated the sale of a former Barclays Bank to Redcar and Cleveland Council as part of their high street regeneration plans.
Andrew Wilkinson of Connect Property acted for a private seller and the sale of the 3021 Sq Ft Grade II Listed property generated good interest from local developers.