Published: 11:00, 14 August 2019
| Updated: 11:31, 14 August 2019
Sandwich Town Council has refused to support a proposal to convert the former HSBC Bank into two flats - but the owner feels he has no other recourse.
Members voted against the change of use of the Cattle Market property from commercial to residential in the interests of maintaining the town's retail offering.
But owner John Solley feels he has no other option as the building does not boast a shop front and office space in the town - due to Discovery Park - is plentiful.
He told KentOnline: "The building lends itself to being a residential unit because it does not have a shop front to it.
"It's not ideal for offices either with so much on offer at Discovery Park. I understand there are commercial properties for sale in the town and they have not sold."
Mr Solley has owned the property since 2015 when HSBC was still in situ.
The bank closed on Friday, May 27 2016 with account holders moved to the Canterbury branch, 13 miles away.
The building has been empty since.
Mr Solley added: "I was left with a shell.
"It was converted into a bank in the 50s and some time before that it was cottages. There's no historic elements to it. There will be no change to the façade so it will look exactly as it is.
"I simply do not see any other recourse."
But others have come out in support of Sandwich Town Council's decision.
MP Craig Mackinlay, who took on a private campaign to fight the Sandwich branch closure, said: "“I am fully supportive of Sandwich Town Council’s position on the old HSBC building.
"As statutory consultees as part of the planning process administered by Dover District Council, I hope the council’s views will carry weight.
"I think much more can be achieved with this substantial building.
"Once converted to flats, that’s it, the opportunity for retail or office use is likely to be lost forever.”
Cllr Paul Graeme, president of Sandwich Chamber of Commerce, said: "The resolution was that Sandwich Town Council would not support it because the change of use to residential from commercial and we fully support that position.
"It is important for the vibrancy and wellbeing of Sandwich that there should be commercial premises and retail outlets to support tourism.
"The Chamber of Commerce although active in recent times is reforming and to this end we will be having a meeting at Sandwich Guildhall on Wednesday, September 18 at 6pm to discuss the chamber's future and all interested parties would be welcome."
Read more: All the latest news from Sandwich