SCOTLAND is least successful at repurposing closed bank premises for other uses, a survey has shown.

Research by the Local Data Company and property advisory firm Fraser Real Estate has found that the presence of high street banks in the UK is dwindling at its fastest rate, against a backdrop of concerns of a shift towards a cashless society.

The findings show that in 2017 eight per cent of high street banks were closed, increasing to 9% in 2018.

This compares to 2% in 2013 and 1% in 2014.

It found that for many banks, only one in five closures have resulted in the space being re-leased to another occupier in the last three years.

The most common new tenants of traditional banking space include coffee shops, funeral care, pizza outlets and charity shops.

READ MORE: Regulator investigates the scale of bank cash machine closures

Banks such as Lloyds Banking Group, Natwest and Barclays have seen 20% of space being re-leased and banks like Metro Bank and Virgin Money have had 60% of leases taken by other occupiers.

Scotland had the lowest ratio of banks being re-leased, with just 16 out of 262 going to other occupiers in the last three years. London repurposed 75 out 323.

The research comes after it was claimed Britain is sleepwalking into a cash-free society for which it is ill-prepared.

Former financial ombudsman Natalie Ceeney said there had was little in terms of an action plan to prevent people being left behind.

Tim Malthouse, of Fraser, said: “Every closure in Scotland has a huge reaction, whereas in London, the high density of alternative banks on offer, as well as the ability re-lease former space more efficiently, means closures tend to go largely go un-noticed.

“It is often only the closure of the last bank in town which causes a real issue to those who do still like to or rely on access to a physical bank.”

Lucy Stainton, of LDC, said: “Numbers of high street banks declined at a faster rate in 2018 than any other retail category that we track, taking over the previous number one spot for closures from pubs.

“In the service retail category we have seen a significant polarisation in fortunes as businesses offering services that are increasingly completed online, including estate agents and banks, fall in number. Other services, however, that are more experiential, such as barbers, hairdressers and nail salons, have continued to grow despite increasing headwinds for occupiers.”