Work begins on £3million transformation of former Post Office and Zeus nightclub building

Project partners mark the launch of work on The BIS centre in Whitby Street, Hartlepool. From left: Denise Ogden, Richard Harrison (Hartlepool Borough Council), Martin Raby (Cleveland College of Art and Design), Matthew Twigger (Michael Eyers Partnership), Pat Chapman (Cleveland College of Art and Design), Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Councillor Kevin Cranney, Andrew Lewis (Tees Valley Combined Authority) and Stephen Bell (Gus Robinson Developments).
Project partners mark the launch of work on The BIS centre in Whitby Street, Hartlepool. From left: Denise Ogden, Richard Harrison (Hartlepool Borough Council), Martin Raby (Cleveland College of Art and Design), Matthew Twigger (Michael Eyers Partnership), Pat Chapman (Cleveland College of Art and Design), Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Councillor Kevin Cranney, Andrew Lewis (Tees Valley Combined Authority) and Stephen Bell (Gus Robinson Developments).

Partners involved in a £3million project to transform an empty building into a base for new creative businesses gathered to mark the start of work.

The former Post Office building in Whiby Street, which later operated as Zeus nightclub, is to be converted into The BIS.

Hartlepool Borough Council is spearheading the project along with Cleveland College of Art and Design, and contractors Gus Robinson Developments.

Gus Robinson managing director Stephen Bell said the company has already taken on new workers and there will be further job opportunities as work progresses.

Mr Bell said: “It is a substantial project and we are delighted to be part of it.

“There is a lot of work to do involving a lot of highly- skilled work.

“We have already employed a couple of people off the back of this project and are bringing in new people to our supply chain so there will be employment opportunities to people within the town.”

Mr Bell said The BIS work is part of a programme of contracts for Gus Robinson Developments over the next year worth £25million.

“This project is a big part of that and in the viability of the business over the next 12 months and beyond.

“We see it as securing both jobs and helping to contribute to the long term prosperity of the business.

“We have a long-standing relationship with Hartlepool Borough Council going back 40 years, the length of time the company has been in business.

“This comes off the back of successful partnership work with the council on the Centre for Independnet Living as well as other projects.”

The building will be refurbished and extended to create 28 studio units for businesses, including a mix of workshops and office space, plus meeting rooms and a shared social space, which can also be used for events and exhibitions.

Pat Chapman, vice principal at Cleveland College of Art and Design, said The BIS will mean more students will be able to stay in Hartlepool to launch businesses instead of going elsewhere.

The Tees Valley Combined Authority is part funding the project as part of a £5.5million contribution to the creation of an Innovation and Skills Quarter in the Church Street area.

Andrew Lewis, managing director of the combined authority, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity, being able to build a really exciting new facility here in the centre of Hartlepool.

“It’s really important that the investment we make here is going to generate an economic return and is going to be of value to the whole of the Tees Valley region.

“We will see new bsuinesses being created and jobs secured.”