Closed Branches Stand Empty

Over 2,300 former bank and building society branches are now empty buildings.

March 5, 2022
Closed Branches Stand Empty
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Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

 

Over 2,300 former bank and building society branches are now empty buildings on the high street, with many of them closed for over a decade.

According to new research carried out by the Local Data Company, some former bank branches have stood boarded up for 12 years.

The new figures come as more banks continue to close branches down, citing a shift in customer behaviour but also risking alienating some of the more vulnerable members of society.

Staggering figures

In total there are currently 2,343 former bank or building society branches in the UK that have been left abandoned with no new tenant.

Of those, most are in the Greater London area with 15.7% of the empty buildings based around the capital. The North West makes up the second-highest amount with 13.2%, followed by the wider South East at 12.8%.

However, it’s in the North West where the highest percentage of former banks remain empty, with almost a third of the former branches in the region still unoccupied.

Of the total number of empty branches in the UK, 57% of them were closed down within the last three years. 352 branches — 15% of the total — have been unlet for over five years.

There are 30 branches in the UK that were closed down over 10 years ago that have been untouched since.

One example is the former Lloyds Bank on Silver Street in Hull, which has been closed since 2010. The agent marketing the property has listed a number of reasons that potential tenants have turned the building down, including the costs of converting the space, and the rates bill.

More branches closing

2021 saw unprecedented levels of branch closures, and the banks are not quite finished. Last month NatWest announced that another 32 branches would be closed down this year. Barclays has also released its annual report that shows that 300 branches had closed down within the last two years.

Banks claim that branches are being underused as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed more customers onto online banking. However, there are concerns that elderly and vulnerable customers who prefer to bank in person are being left behind, with many either unable or unwilling to make the digital switch.

Banks are being accused in some quarters of cost-cutting just to focus on profits, with many of the UK’s largest institutions revealing that they had very successful financial years and have seen a great upturn in their fortunes.

Banks will often point to the Post Office, which recently renewed its deal to provide banking services to customers of the majority of UK banks. But there are still some communities that are losing the essential in-person banking services they require.

The seemingly relentless closure of bank branches will leave the millions of people who rely on them for cash withdrawal and vital face-to-face banking services concerned about how they’ll continue to access cash as well as the future of their high streets.

While many consumers now choose to bank digitally, some aren’t yet ready or able to make the leap.

Jenny Ross, Which? Money Editor

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Mentioned Banks

About Barclays Bank Barclays is a British multinational investment bank and financial services company. It was founded in 1690 and is headquartered in London. Barclays originated...
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About Lloyds Bank Lloyds Bank is a British retail and commercial bank. One of the ‘Big Four’ clearing banks, it was founded in Birmingham in 1765. It is the largest retail bank...
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NatWest, or National Westminster, is a retail and commercial bank based in the United Kingdom. It is one of the ‘Big Four’ UK clearing banks and has more than 7.5million personal banking...
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