LYMM'S last bank has been listed as an asset of community value in a landmark decision – as efforts turn to persuading the branch to 'embrace the opportunity'.

Planning officers have approved the parish council's bid to register Lloyds Bank at The Cross as an asset of community value.

In April, it confirmed it would be closing on July 4 because of a drop in custom ‘due to the changing way’ residents are choosing to use services.

Parish councillor Graham Gowland believes the planning decision ‘shows the value of the bank to the village’.

He added: "It is now officially recognised as being a key part of the community.

"I believe it is the first bank listed as an asset of community value.

"But it is an issue that the bank does not own the premises.

"We will be looking to get a bit more recognition about how Warrington has accepted it is a major community asset for a thriving town.

"The impact of the loss will be huge.

"We have also lost the Post Office here, which would have been the only other banking service for residents and businesses.

"The British Bankers' Association and Lloyds have a protocol on bank closures they have to follow, that includes an assessment of the branch's use, but also a community engagement stage that does not seem to have yet happened.

"We would like to seek further engagement with Lloyds.

"We would like Lloyds to clarify the use of the branch – their assessment figures show a quiet branch but reality shows regular queues and a demand for the service.

"There are around 12,500 people in Lymm, the owner now has an added incentive to look for a banking tenant.

"The bank has a lease on the premises until 2019.

"Regardless of closing or not, they will still have all the overhead costs until then.

"We want Lloyds to work with us to boost trade through use of the branch and the number of customers.

"There is potentially some scope for community banking – there would need to be a banking licence in place.

"We would like to embrace the opportunity for Lloyds in what is already a busy branch, with potential for growth in an affluent area."

Lloyds Bank confirmed it has been made aware of the decision.

A spokesman added: "We have referred this to our property agents and will be able to comment further in due course."

Graham Chisnall, trustee of Chisnall Family Trust, which owns the property, submitted an objection to the asset of community value application.

He said the trust does not want Lloyds to vacate the site but believes factually listing the property as an asset of community value 'will have no bearing on Lloyds Bank's decision as it is only relevant to the property owner'.

In the planning decision notice, the council said it is considered that the site ‘currently furthers the social interest and social wellbeing of the community’.