A FORMER High Street bank building which dates back to the 19th century could be transformed into flats as part of new plans.

Proposals have been submitted to Basildon Council to change the use of the former Lloyds bank, in Billericay High Street, into new flats with a shop on the ground floor.

The bank has remained empty since it closed its doors in November 2022.

Although the plans to bring the building back into use have been welcomed, councillors have claimed residents’ number one priority will be keeping the building “aesthetically pleasing”.

Phil Turner, Conservative councillor responsible for Billericay West, said: “It is good news that the building could be coming back into life.

“We hope that whatever the commercial unit is adds to the High Street.

“We have recently seen Café Nero come in, which seems like it has been well received and that has flats above too. Apart from the building, you wouldn’t known it, as it hasn’t changed the character.

“That is the thing that residents want. The demand will be to keep aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with the character of the high street.

“In some way, it is good that upper floors could be turned into flats as it adds vibrancy if people are living actually in the High Street.

“I think people will welcome the development. But the High Street is a jewel for us so we want to make sure that if it something is going to be changed, it improves and adds something.”

Billericay has been hit with a number of bank closures over the last few years. Barclays, HSBC, and NatWest, also all closed their doors within the High Street since 2022.

Following these closures Santander is the only bank remaining in Billericay High Street.

The applicant states that the external works are minimal to keep with the wider character of the high street.

Plans state: “The provision of three units will contribute towards housing targets and is a significant public benefit given the council cannot demonstrate a five-year housing land supply.

“Furthermore, the proposal will provide a mixture of unit types to support local demand and need.”

The flats would be one one-bedroom, one two-bedroom, and one three-bedroom. The type of commercial unit is yet to be revealed.