Pret A Manger and new bank to move to Ipswich Cornhill landmark site

The former Grimwades store that is being converted into a bank and probably a Pret A Manger takeaway

The former Grimwades store that is being converted into a bank and probably a Pret A Manger takeaway. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

The former Grimwades store on Ipswich Cornhill is expected to be split into two – and converted into a Pret A Manger and a bank.

Work to create the bank has already started, but the identity of the new occupant is not yet known.

That work does not require a change of use planning permission – the existing permission on the building covers use for retail banking.

However turning part of it into a Pret A Manger would require planning permission – conversion from a shop to a restaurant or takeaway does involve a change of use.

We understand informal talks have already taken place between representatives of Pret A Manger and officials from Ipswich council and other bodies about converting part of the building.

An application to convert the whole building into a large restaurant was turned down by the borough council last year – but it is understood officials are much more sympathetic to the application from Pret A Manger which would be seen as an asset to a revamped Cornhill.

Work to re-design the Cornhill should start in January and be completed by Christmas 2018. Eating outside will be encouraged there.

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The bank would have to apply for permission for its signs and shopfront – but providing that is not out of place it is not expected to be an obstacle.

The store has not had a permanent tenant since Clinton Cards closed its branch there after it went into administration in 2012 – although there have been discount retailers there for short periods.

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said it was important to get long-term tenants to move into the store: “That is a prime site for the town centre and it would be good if it does attract major High Street names.”

Pret A Manger advertised for a manager for its Ipswich branch in July – but at that stage there was no indication of where it was hoping to open.

Although it is known primarily as a takeaway, most branches also have an area where food can be eaten – often on the first floor of their premises.

The former Grimwades store would be ideal for that as it was built on several storeys. It is not a listed building for planning purposes – although the frontage could be protected because it is on such a prominent site.