This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Plans for bank include Hare Krishna temple
Hare Krishna devotees have submitted plans to transform a landmark building into a place of worship.
Members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) are hoping to set up a restaurant, heritage room and an informal library at the former HSBC bank, in Granby Street, Leicester.
The group was left without a place of worship when an explosion tore through its temple in North Evington two years ago.
A planning application for the former bank has been submitted to Leicester City Council.
ISKCON president Pradyumna Dasa said: "We want a spiritual place and to make it available to the public.
"We want to include things such as yoga, meditation and elements of worshipping Krishna.
"Most people don't know the building was by architect Joseph Goddard, who also designed the Clock Tower.
"We want to build a heritage room, telling the story of Goddard."Mr Dasa said a restaurant would serve "wholesome vegetarian cuisine in support of health and wellbeing".
There would also be a library.
"There are 165 language spoken in the city and we want books and literature dedicated to all of them," Mr Dasa said.
"It would be like a very informal library where people could come and read in peace."
He said the temple would also be usable as a venue by community groups and for meetings and banquets.
An official opening date has not yet been set.
"We'll have the odd function here and there as we phase in the work, but we're still going through various planning stages so we can't get an exact opening date until that's done," Mr Dasa said.
He said he could not say how much the project would cost.
Members of the group have been worshipping in rented spaces since the explosion.
They said they were looking forward to moving into the 1870s-built, grade II-listed property.
The building has stood empty since HSBC left in 2008 and was recently added to English Heritage's list of significant buildings at risk of falling into disrepair.
Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Leicester Civic society, said it was "great news" to see the building being made use of.
He said: "This is the building which allegedly made Sir John Betjeman say 'wow', so it's one of our jewels and needs to be treated as such."