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BY Michael Berriman | Wednesday 17 November 2021

The regeneration of Hull’s historic Whitefriargate has taken another step forward with the £1.6m refurbishment of an iconic former bank.

The stunning building on Whitefriargate is a former bank.

The 55 Group, a collective of leading cross-industry businesses, has completed its relocation to the former HSBC building on Whitefriargate in Hull city centre following redevelopment to make it a creative and innovation hub.

Gerard Toplass, group chief executive officer at The 55 Group, said: “We’re overjoyed to now be in our new home after waiting patiently while renovation work took place. It’s the perfect environment to collaborate professionally and socialise as friends using the integrated mix of workspaces and leisure facilities.

“As an organisation we’re onboard with flexible working and are happy for staff to use the facilities as needed, but it is reassuring that we have now made sure everyone has access to a high-quality work environment.

“Between the businesses now homed here, much of our history has been created in the north and specifically in Hull, so there was never anywhere else we considered creating our future.”

The project was supported by a £711,000 grant from the Humber High Street Challenge Fund.

The Humber High Street Challenge Fund has been supported with £2.23m from the Government’s Local Growth Fund, secured by the Humber LEP and part of the Government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

Gerard Toplass continued: “The building is positioned in a historic and beautiful area of the city, which inspired us to make the interior similarly as attractive but with the modern twists required to make it suitable for our forward-thinking ethos.”

Councillor Daren Hale, leader of Hull City Council, said: “It’s great to see the ongoing regeneration of Whitefriargate and the confidence that businesses are continuing to show in the area.

“55 Whitefriargate is an incredible building so it’s fantastic to see it back in use.

“This project compliments the vision we have for the area, of being a vibrant place for people to live, work and play, as well as complimenting both established and newly arrived businesses in the Old Town.”

The 1879 building is also now home to Hotham’s Gin School and a recently opened bar, Bar 55, in the vaults of the former bank. Bar 55 also plans to open a rooftop bar in 2022.

The wider regeneration of Whitefriargate is being supported by £1m of funding from the Humber High Street Challenge Fund, as well as £1.75m from Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme.

James Newman, chair of HEY LEP, said: “We are thrilled to see new businesses directly benefit from the Humber High Street Challenge Fund and that this programme is having a positive impact in Hull city centre, especially in historic Whitefriargate. Making our towns and city centres accessible and vibrant will stimulate the economy, with benefits for all residents and businesses.

“This fund was launched to breathe new life into the region’s town and city centres, and we are very pleased to see new businesses opening during what has been a challenging time for our high streets.”