Law firm to take over former Nat West Bank building in Heathfield

5th December

Solicitors H & R Hughes have purchased the Nat West building in Heathfield High Street and will see the team relocate from premises near the roundabout.

Rod Hughes told The Heathfield News: “Contrary to local rumours we are not planning to open a Weatherspoons or Pizza Express but rather, following refurbishment, we hope it will provide suitable additional and much needed space for the lawyers and support staff who all work here in Heathfield.

“We love the frontage and, to put people’s minds at rest, we have no plans to change it. The former banking hall is very high inside and we hope to keep the front part of that very much as is so it will continue to be recognisable to old NatWest bank customers. The rest of the building is very tired and needs substantial overhall and, if the planners will let us, we hope to add a modest extension.

“The basement of the building poses a challenge for us containing the bank’s strongroom and safes – sadly  the latter with nothing inside them now!”

The building was originally constructed in the 1920s/1930s for Westminster Bank with the front part adopting the style of the time. The bank then twice extended the building to the rear with much less attractive extensions.

There are five partners in the firm:  Hilary Hughes, who has worked in Heathfield now for the best part of 40 years; Clare Lane who grew up in Heathfield and has lived in the town most of her life; Dee Benians, another local resident, and Cerrig Parr who hails from Brighton.

Rod added: “Hilary and I have lived in nearby Mayfield for over 30 years and all of us are committed to the town and to serving the local community. We think that buying the bank is a stepping stone in how our firm evolves for that reason.”

Meanwhile the owners of what was the Post Office opposite Sainsbury’s are working flat out to complete the conversion of the building into a coffee shop and vapour lounge.

Co owners Chris Marlowe and Lee Silver are opening a coffee shop downstairs and a vapour lounge upstairs. The pair have a similar business in Crowborough. The upstairs will be called Vapour Style and the downstairs Cafe Style.

Lee explains: “We will be offering quality, barista made coffee, cakes and some savoury dishes.  The vapour lounge will have Chesterfield sofas and we will be selling hardware and a variety of e-liquids from around the globe.

“Myself and Chris both went to Heathfield Community College so we know the town well and we thought it was an ideal spot for a coffee shop.”

The new business, which may be open before Christmas will also create jobs. They need a baristas and a full-time waitress.