BANKING giant NatWest has confirmed plans to close a Hampshire branch.

The Echo can reveal that the outlet in New Milton is due to shut, along with branches across the Hampshire border in Boscombe, Westbourne, Winton, and Canford Cliffs.

It is unknown how many other branches across the country will be affected.

NatWest has said the reason behind the closures was a response to a change in the way customers were banking.

Since 2011 the number of transactions at the Boscombe branch has declined by 30 per cent, Canford Cliffs by 40 per cent, New Milton by 29 per cent, Westbourne by 32 per cent and Winton by 42 per cent - according to figures from the bank.

A NatWest spokesman said: “The way people choose to bank with us has changed radically over the last few years.

“Between 2010 and 2015, mobile and online transactions have increased by over 400 per cent and mobile transactions alone have increased by 1,350 per cent.

“Over 50 per cent of customers in the five branches choose to use our digital banking options.

“We are following the Access to Banking protocol and we have made the decision after careful consideration of a wide range of factors, including regular branch usage and the alternative ways our customers can bank with us.”

NatWest has said it was beginning to communicate with customers affected by the closures.

“We have listened closely to feedback from local communities and have extended the time between announcing our decision and the branch closure to six months,” added the spokesman.

“This has been done in order to ensure our customers have time to consider the right banking options for them.”

In response to the closures NatWest has created a new “Community Banker” role and a specialist taskforce of “digital experts” who will be tasked with training and supporting customers with digital skills.

The NatWest closures come just a months after HSBC announced that 62 of its branches around the UK will be shut down this year, with the Ferndown branch in Ringwood Road due to close on Friday, May 12.