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A £1.5million project to create a steakhouse restaurant in a long-neglected bank building has been given the stamp of approval by a national heritage watchdog.

A £1.5million project to create a steakhouse restaurant in a long-neglected bank building has been given the stamp of approval by a national heritage watchdog.

Historic England has removed the grade II*-listed former Nat West bank building in Leicester’s St Martins – considered to be one of the city's architectural treasures – from the national ‘Heritage at Risk’ register.

The building, which dates back to 1900, had stood empty for 16 years and was falling into disrepair. Thieves had stripped the building of its lead guttering leaving it susceptible to leaks, damp and rot.

The former bank, at 2 St Martins, had been on Historic England’s heritage at risk register since 2003.

Following an ambitious £1.5million restoration by the Middletons Steakhouse Group, the building reopened to the public as a restaurant in October 2016.
Historic England inspectors have since visited the property and have now confirmed that it is no longer ‘at risk’. It will be removed from the 2017 national heritage at risk register, which is due to be published in the autumn.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “I am delighted that Historic England continues to recognise Leicester's commitment to ensuring that our built heritage is valued and protected.

“The former Nat West bank at St Martins is one of the city centre’s architectural treasures and had stood empty for far too long.

“Middletons have done a wonderful job of restoring this historic building, bringing an important part of our Old Town’s architectural heritage back into public use as a very smart restaurant.”

The Leicester Middletons was the sixth restaurant to be opened by the independent chain.

Stephen Hutton, managing director of Middletons, said: “We are delighted that Historic England has recognised the fantastic refurbishment that we carried out on this former bank.

“Bringing this building back to life has been a three-year project and we are very proud of this achievement and the fact that this historic building is open once again for people to enjoy.”

Ben Robinson, Heritage at Risk Principal for Historic England in the East Midlands, said: “It’s a pleasure to be able to remove 2 St Martins from the Heritage at Risk Register. The conversion shows that fine buildings, which were vacant and at risk, can be sensitively adapted for new uses. We should all applaud the efforts of those who recognise their special qualities and potential.”

The former bank was designed by Leicester architects Everard and Pick in the baroque revival style.

The painstaking restoration has included refurbishing the original doors and panels, made from Brazilian mahogany. A new mezzanine floor was created to provide additional seating, and new decorative cast aluminium guttering was installed.

The building has also benefitted from architectural feature lighting as part of a city council scheme to shine a spotlight on some of the city centre’s architectural treasures.