Landmark building society headquarters to be converted into apartments after standing vacant

A cornerstone building in Barnsley’s commercial centre is to be converted to apartments and a cafe after standing vacant for several years.

The former Barnsley Building Society headquarters – described as “grandiose” by the council’s planning department – was built in the 1930s in an Art Deco style at the junction of Church Street and Regent Street.

But the building society had to be rescued following the banking crisis more than a decade ago, becoming part of the Yorkshire Building Society, with a solicitors’ practice then taking over the building for some years.

It has been vacant since that firm moved out an Barnsley Council has now approved plans to create 25 apartments inside the building, with two commercial units which will include a cafe on the ground floor.

The changes were outlined in two planning applications which were both passed by the council’s planning board and include the creation of a mezzanine floor for the ground level apartments, to create the necessary floor space.

Some will be studio style, with the rest one or two bedroomed homes.

Planning rules mean none will have to be given over as ‘affordable homes’ because vacant buildings brought back into use are excluded from that agreement, but more than £20,000 will have to be provided by the developer towards improving open green spaces in the area.

The exterior of the building will be little changed by the development and councillors have asked that as many original interior features as possible are retained, along with a request for a photographic survey of the building’s interior to provide a record for the town’s archives.

Coun Dave Griffin told the meeting: “I fully support this. I think it is great to see what is an iconic building, which has been empty for too long, brought back into use.”

The building is not Listed but is in a conservation area and is close to buildings with Listed status, but Barnsley Civic Trust were in favour of the plans.