PLANS to convert a disused 19th century bank and bring it back into use as a new delicatessen have been backed with a city council heritage grant. The former Bank of Ireland Savings Bank, at 4 St Martins, is one of the first buildings to be awarded a grant from the Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).
The city council-run scheme, which is backed by £1.1milllion of Heritage Lottery Fund cash, will help drive the restoration and regeneration of at least 20 of the most historically important buildings in the Greyfriars conservation area, to the south of Leicester Cathedral.
A grant of up to £200,000 has been awarded to Nottingham-based Delilah Fine Foods who plan to revamp the Grade II-listed Victorian bank building and bring it back into use.
The company has secured planning and listed building consent to convert the old bank into a delicatessen and café, with three apartments on the upper floors. Delilah Fine Foods has won awards for a similar deli, which it opened in a converted Grade II-listed former bank building in Nottingham’s Victoria Street.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This is an absolutely smashing building, right on the gateway into Cathedral Gardens.
“I am thrilled with the plans to bring it back into use as a deli, which will see it reopened as a place for people to enjoy, after years of it being boarded-up.
“The award of this THI grant means that we can help to bring a fantastic piece of our architectural heritage back into use, and also attract a new, independent business into Leicester.
“Delilah Fine Foods have an excellent record of sensitively converting heritage buildings. We simply wouldn’t have seen this level of interest in this part of the city centre two years ago.”
Sangita Tryner, owner of Delilah Fine Foods, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to finally get this project underway after months of deliberations.
”It’s such a beautiful building and the interior space is going to be incredible. Unfortunately, years of standing empty have certainly taken their toll and it’s going to be a challenging project.
“Without the support of Leicester City Council and the Townscape Heritage initiative grant, our restoration of the building would simply not have been financially viable. “It’s great to see targeted investment in the whole Greyfriars area. We’ve witnessed its transformation first-hand over the last year and a half.
“The whole Delilah team is looking forward to filling this exciting space with all the food and drink that we source locally, and from far and wide. We’ve had so many messages of support from Leicester people who know our Nottingham shop, and we can’t wait to welcome them into our beautiful new deli and café.”
The THI grant awarded by the council will fund key conservation and restoration work as part of the company’s planned £500,000 redevelopment of the property.
This will include re-glazing and restoring the building’s striking lantern-style roof light, and the installation of a new mezzanine floor to provide seating directly beneath it. The grant will also support the restoration of key architectural features, including work to the windows and decorative stonework.
It will also help pay for treatment of dry rot and water damage, which was placing the building at risk of serious, irreversible damage. The building, which dates back to 1873, has been vacant for almost a decade.
The Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative is run by Leicester City Council in partnership with Leicester Cathedral, Leicester Civic Society, and both of the city’s universities.
The five year programme will focus on buildings in New Street, Millstone Lane, Friar Lane, Wycliffe Street, St Martins, Peacock Lane, Berridge Street and Grey Friars.
Property owners can apply for money to repair building fronts, to restore lost architectural features such as original windows, fencing and decorative masonry, or to bring empty space back into use. THI grants have also been approved for work to 17 Friar Lane (£32k) and 10-14 New Street (£86k).
Along with the improvement grants, the scheme includes a programme of events and training to promote a wider understanding of the history of the area and its buildings. The £1.6million project is part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, along with £450,000 of city council cash set aside for the Leicester Economic Action Plan.
For more information, email the project team at email@example.com