New restaurant puts Bath in The Ivy league! Change of address for NatWest branches?

Nat West Bank today and then up-market restaurant tomorrow. Looks as if it could be ‘all change’ in Milsom Street soon and you might eventually be dining under one of the finest decorated ceilings in Bath!

IMG_7834

Somersetshire Buildings and the current home of a branch of NatWest.

A planning application has gone into B&NES to transform the bank premises – within the grade 2 listed Somersetshire Buildings – into a restaurant.

It’s been made by the Pegasus Group on behalf of Troia UK Restaurants – a property development company connected to the group which owns The Ivy in London.

Permission has already been granted for the group to open a new restaurant venture in Bristol.

IMG_7841

The NatWest branch in Bath High Street.

Nat West Bank have confirmed this branch will close and move elsewhere. Though they have denied reports that the High Street branch will also close and merge with Milsom Street staff at another site.

A statement reads:

“We are continuing to review our strategy and invest in our branch network, and we have decided that we would like to invest in new premises in Bath to ensure we have the right branch, on the right pitch with the right facilities for our customers.  Please be assured that we are committed to investing in our services in Bath and we will provide further details over the coming months.”

But back to that restaurant planning application. According to Stephen Farrell of the on-line ‘Insider Media Limited’ ( http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/southwest/the-ivy-plans-bath-restaurant )

‘The proposed South West restaurants would be the group’s first in the UK outside London. It currently operates venues in Dubai and New York.

If consent is granted by Bath and North East Somerset Council, The Ivy Bath Brasserie would support the creation of 70 jobs.

IMG_6310

Another view of the Grade 2 listed facade of Somersetshire Buildings.

The ground and first floors of the property would feature dining areas, with a kitchen in the basement and staff facilities on the upper two levels.

It would be open until 11pm with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

Under the proposals, the building’s ground floor entrance area would be restored, making use of its historic features.

A design and access statement submitted by Pegasus said: “The application would retain the building in active use and act as a destination restaurant within Bath city centre and generating significant new employment opportunities, thereby contributing towards the vitality and viability of the centre as a whole.’

The building in question is part of Somersetshire Buildings – five grand houses built as a speculative development in 1781-3 by Thomas Baldwin.

IMG_7833

The amazing plastered ornamental ceiling inside what is now NatWest in Milsom Street.

The ground floor room of number 39 – the centre house occupied by NatWest Bank – has one of the finest and most delicate plaster ceilings in the city and is inspired by Josiah Wedgewood’s Jasperware.

This was Bath and Somersetshire Bank c.1783-93 when it failed and then Stuckey’s Bank from 1859 until the National Westminster Bank logo took over.

IMG_1609

Another view of that amazing ornamental ceiling.

B&NES councillors will no doubt want lots of re-assurance regarding the future care of both building and ceiling – which hopefully will be over the diners and not kitchen fumes.

IMG_7844

Another closer view of the NatWest branch in Bath High Street.

I have approached NatWest for comment about what is happening to the displaced branch in Milsom Street.

P1090667

Looking down on the Old Bank building on the High Street.

I am hearing  – unofficially  and from an unconfirmed source – that there will be no redundancies but a merger with staff from The High Street branch which will also move to a new site where even more people may be recruited.

The Old Bank – currently NatWest – has been home to a bank since 1787 but was rebuilt above the basement in 1913-14.

Comments please!