Newcastle Building Society has revealed details of its plan to transform the branch experience for customers in a County Durham market town.

Two years ago, the Society moved into its Newgate Street premises in Bishop Auckland town centre after the Virgin Money branch there closed, and is now planning a major investment that will deliver a modern, open plan environment to provide customers with improved access to services, information, advice and private meeting spaces.

A dedicated community room will also be created and made available, free of charge, for local people and community groups to use for events and activities.

To allow for the required work to be carried out, the Bishop Auckland branch will temporarily close to customers for eight weeks at 1pm on Friday 15 October, with customers retaining access to services through nearby branches, as well as over the phone and online.

Work on converting the 1,600 sq ft space will then begin straight away, with the doors scheduled to reopen to customers in mid-December.

The new project is part of Newcastle Building Society’s ongoing multi-million pound branch investment programme, which has seen improved facilities and new branches opening in locations across the North East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

The Bishop Auckland project follows the Society’s upcoming investment in creating a modern new branch location in West Denton, to the west of Newcastle, which is due to open in October.

Stuart Miller, chief customer officer of Newcastle Building Society, says: “Making a significant investment in Bishop Auckland is part of a wider commitment to maintain and protect financial services in our region. After an unavoidable delay caused by the pandemic, we’re extremely pleased to now be able to get on with the refurbishment.

“The redeveloped space will offer our customers everything they would expect from a modern financial institution, while the community room we’re including will provide local people, groups and organisations with a dedicated place in the centre of the town to use for events and activities without charge.

“We’ve made arrangements to ensure our Bishop Auckland customers can still gain access to a full range of services while the refurbishment is taking place and can’t wait to share what the new branch will offer with everyone in in the town later this year.”

Recent research by Newcastle Building Society found that more than 90% of UK adults value their high street whilst around 7 in 10 would commit to spending less online to save their local services.

Stuart Miller continues: “We’re absolutely committed to maintaining face-to-face financial services on high streets across our region, and we know from our own research that people see the value of vibrant local services and share our belief in the importance of high streets.

For more information on the Society’s investment programme or the high streets research, visit www.newcastle.co.uk