THE former Nationwide building society branch in High Street is to become an orthodontist practice.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee discussed the proposal from AMK Orthodontics for just three minutes before unanimously approving it at Thursday’s meeting.

Councillors were told that the unit has been on the market since June 2018 with ‘no strong interest’ following Nationwide’s closure.

Catherine Reay, planning officer at CWAC, said: “Whilst an orthodontist practice is not an identified town centre use in terms of national planning policy, it is considered that the footfall associated with such a use is comparable with other town centre uses where customers attend by appointment.

“The proposal would bring the vacant unit back into use and it is considered that the proposed use would not undermine the vitality or viability of the town centre, and it could indeed complement the existing retail offer through linked trips.”

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The practice is expected to open from 9am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.

AMK Orthodontics says that seven full-time staff will be employed at the practice, and both floors are set to be used for the facility.

Cllr Kate Cernik, Labour member for Winnington and Castle, said: “I think that anything that brings more people into our towns and creates diversity of use for the town is to be welcomed.”

Cllr Norman Wright, Conservative member for Marbury, added: “Yes I agree – it is better than being empty like a lot of shops are, not just in Northwich but throughout the borough.”

Nationwide closed its High Street branch in April 2018 at the same time the building society’s Bull Ring branch was refurbished.