Plan to turn former Wirksworth bank into art gallery

Plans have been submitted to turn a former Wirksworth bank into an art gallery - with the original vault door retained as an exhibit.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 11:07 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 11:07 am
The former bank located on Wirksworth Market Place.

Plans have been submitted to turn a former Derbyshire bank into an art gallery – with the original vault door retained as an exhibit.

The former Natwest bank in Market Place, Wirksworth, has been closed for a number of years as part of a move nationwide from banks to consolidate their premises due to the rise in online banking.

Now there are plans to give the bank, in a prominent spot and a stand-out listed building in the town centre, a new lease of life.

The vault door

The application has been submitted by Isabel Cordero Padilla, who featured in the Guardian earlier this year for the wholesale redesign and transformation of her Wirksworth home.

That article had mentioned that Ms Cordero Padilla wanted to open up her own art gallery, MI, this year.

The application, submitted to Derbyshire Dales District Council, says the former ground floor banking hall and the vault would form the art gallery – with the vault area to become home to a range of ceramics.

A document filed by Mansel Architects with the application says the Chatwood-Milner bank vault door – constructed between 1956 and 1971 – would be retained.

It says: “The bank vault door is to be retained as a static feature in memory of the original use of the building, for the quality of materials and design and for the drama of its sculptural presence in the room, which will be part of the gallery display.”

A heritage report from Grey Richards Trowell Architects says: “The majority of the works proposed in this application relate to repairs or alterations in response to their previous interventions and/or  lack of maintenance by the previous owners.

“The conservation strategy is to negate any further harmful impact on the existing fabric or historic plan form and features wherever possible.

“Whilst damaged, the remnants of the fine plaster and architectural details are nonetheless still impressive to the observer.

“We would suggest that the proposals outlined herewith are considered and sensitive to the original building.

“Overall, we consider the works would have a positive impact, in that they serve to preserve the existing features and fabric of the building.”

The Grade-II listed former bank, built in 1910, sits in Wirksworth’s Conservation Area, with key restrictions on changes which can be made to it, internally and externally.

The upper floors of the building would be used for self-contained flats, with the top floor already in residential use.

The district council will make a decision in the next few months.