Plan to convert former Nat West Bank in Newhaven into home

Former Nat West building, Newhaven.
Former Nat West building, Newhaven.

A landmark building in Newhaven High Street could be converted into a home if a planning application is successful.

The applicant J Farhoumand asked Lewes District Council for permission to turn the former Nat West Bank into a four bedroom house after seeing the decaying state of the shopping area.

But Newhaven Town Council said it was against the scheme, arguing the building was part of the main shopping centre.

In a statement to the district council Mr Farhoumand said: “Furthermore over the past year and a half there have regularly been some 15 to 20 empty ground floor commercial premises on the High Street.

“It seems that every month or so, sadly another business premises seems to fall empty here.

“Many of the deserted commercial properties are currently creating a barren feeling in certain stretches of the High Street.

“So again there is no demand for new commercial ground floor premises on the High Street with so many lying empty.”

Mr Farhoumand said the Grade II listed building at 5 High Street had been vacant for almost two and a half years. Its upper floors had been used as living accommodation previously.

Mr Farhoumand added: “It seems at some point in the past, a commercial strip mall of sorts has been allowed to open and develop on the other side of the river, just a stone’s throw from the bridge, which has presumably contributed to the downfall of High Street business.

“This new commercial area includes huge brand stores such s McDonald’s, B&Q, Halfords, Lidl, KFC andSainsbury’s.

“Furthermore these stores all offer huge free parking forecourts at the front.”

He said cars were not allowed to enter the High Street and added that it costs money to use the car park.

Mr Farhoumand said he was hoping to turn the ground floor into an antiques shop, cafe, martial arts or yoga studio but was laughed at by neighbours who said there was no demand.

He said both banks, florist and phone shop had closed in recent years, adding the most successful shops were Poundstretcher and Ladbrokes.

In the past year, he said there had been a move towards coverting shops into homes in the High Street and Bridge Street.

The town council wrote to the district council to object to the scheme, an antqiues shop or cafe were exactly the sort of businesses that continued to be viable in the town centre.