One of Hartlepool’s most iconic buildings is set to undergo a huge transformation with the start of work on the Wesley Chapel.
The Grade II-listed Victorian Methodist chapel, built in 1873, has stood empty for a number of years following a fire in 2017 which gutted the interior and roof structure.
Now a £4.1m scheme delivered by Hartlepool Borough Council and Jomast will bring the building back into use as a 36-bedroom hotel, restaurant and commercial units.
The Council’s investment in this scheme is funded through the Hartlepool Town Deal and will see the building restored in keeping with its listed status and preserve it as a heritage asset.
Hartlepool was one of 100 towns across England invited by the Government to develop innovative regeneration plans and bid for up to £25m to fund them. The Council was informed last year that it had been awarded the full amount, and the plans have subsequently been approved by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUCH).
The Hartlepool Town Deal includes key projects such as the reimagining of Middleton Grange Shopping Centre and improved waterfront connectivity between the town centre, marina and Seaton Carew, as well as the creation of a health and social care academy and a civil engineering skills academy.
The work on the Wesley Chapel will initially focus on making the building structurally safe, including installing a new roof, following which it will be delivered in line with the planning approvals.
The main construction includes restoring the exterior wrought iron work, restoration of the listed stone masonry, new windows and door entrances and the interior development of boutique hotel accommodation with a glazed entrance lobby.
The project is expected to take about 18 months to complete and will create up to 55 full-time jobs once the hotel and other units are open for business.
Darren Hankey, Interim Chair of the Hartlepool Town Deal Board, said: ‘‘This scheme is a vital part of our Hartlepool Town Deal plans.
“The Wesley Chapel is an iconic and much-loved feature of the town, which has unfortunately stood empty and derelict for a number of years. I am so pleased that we can now move forward and start work to restore this marvellous building and bring it back into use.”
Denise McGuckin, Hartlepool Borough Council Managing Director, said: ‘‘We are delighted that work on this scheme is now starting. This is a key part of the Council’s Town Centre Masterplan and will bring much-needed jobs and investment into the heart of Hartlepool.”
Adam Hearld, Development Director of Jomast, said: “‘We have been working closely with Hartlepool Borough Council for some time in securing the necessary planning approvals and gap funding required to sensitively renovate and repurpose this important heritage asset, and we now look forward to commencing the development works which will bring this former chapel back to life in the form of an exceptional boutique hotel and accompanying retail and leisure units.’’