Tearoom to open after paint u-turn

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THE owner of a former church which was converted into a restaurant and tearoom is complying with building regulations and hopes to be open this week.

John O’Connor spent 16 years converting St Andrew’s Church, on Hartlepool’s Headland, into an upmarket eaterie called Mary Rowntree’s.

Its planned December 5 opening was delayed after a Hartlepool Borough Council building inspector said fireproof paint was needed on new wooden panels on the ceiling.

But Mr O’Connor, of O’Connor Roofing Services, had initially told the Mail the paint would “ruin the building aesthetically” and said he would rather “shut the doors and leave the building” than apply the paint.

But in a turnaround, Mr O’Connor has confirmed he and a team of workers have applied the paint and are putting in place other building recommendations, including installing a grease trap outside the kitchen and linking the building’s alarm with its music system.

He conceded: “There’s no way I can get around it.

“We have done it with a heavy heart, but I can’t beat the council and we need to get the place open.

“Otherwise it would have all been a waste.”

Mr O’Connor said he hopes to get consent to officially open from the council and plans to open on Friday.

A council spokesman said: “We are aware that Mr O’Connor is addressing some outstanding issues.

“As soon as Mr O’Connor informs us that the work has been completed we will carry out a further inspection.

“If everything is to our satisfaction then the council will issue a Building Regulation Completion certificate.”