COULD the former NatWest bank in the heart of Uppermill be turned into an exciting new centre for small businesses?
The Independent has learned this “significant option” is one of the agendas for prospective bidders when the detached three-storey building comes up for auction on Tuesday, October 17.
The Independent believes the bank could be turned into a multi-purpose centre which may be used as a boost for existing local or new start-up businesses.
A source close to a prospective purchaser said: “We understand there are restrictions on the building’s usage.
“However, there are great possibilities the building could be developed and offer support and opportunities for small, innovative and creative businesses seeking room to develop.
“The bank certainly offers a significant range of opportunities which we will be examining once we have studied the legal pack surrounding the sale.”
After the bank closed in June, Saddleworth Parish councillor Jamie Curley negotiated with bank bosses to install a community banker Paul Geary in Uppermill.
On hearing the news about a possible bidder for the High Street premises Cllr Curley said: “It would be an ideal opportunity to enhance the economy and employment prospects for Saddleworth.
“The idea of a mixed use facility would be ideal. I hope the prospective purchaser develops it with sensitivity to both Uppermill and the wider community.”
However, one of the key stipulations which infuriated villagers is the imposing building cannot be used by a bank or building society, along with other restrictions.
Cllr Pam Byrne, former Saddleworth Parish Council chair, said: “I am fascinated by the restrictions of the sale but wonder how enforceable they are in planning terms.
“Given the way the banks are going in national closures of branches I doubt it would be realistic for another bank to open there but it would be good for the local authority to take it on at that price for education or culture.”
Cllr Graham Sheldon, the former Uppermill village sub-postmaster, declared: “I hope the new owner will maintain and enhance the building in the special surroundings in Uppermill.
“The use of the building will be determined by local demands but I would prefer the space be used for employment in favour of dwellings.”
A spokesperson at the auctioneers, Pugh, said sale information appears on their website. Check their website: www.pugh-auctions.com under their commercial section.