WORK has started to transform a historic town landmark into a hotel.
Jomast has planning permission to convert the derelict Wesley chapel in Hartlepool town centre into a hotel and restaurant.
Aside from opening at Christmas a couple of years ago, the 19th Century chapel and former nightclub has stood empty for several years.
The Stockton-based developer did have plans for a 36-bedroom hotel approved back in December 2009, but the permission expired in December last year.
That led to fresh plans being submitted last summer to Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning department which increased the number of bedrooms to 49 and made other modifications to the plans in order to make it more “viable”.
Workmen have been seen going in and out of the building in recent days and filling skips outside the front of the building.
No details have yet been given about how many potential new jobs the development may create or the timescale.
Nobody from Jomast was available to comment on the latest developments, but speaking last year Stuart Monk, managing director of Jomast, said: “We have revisited the plans and increased the number of bedrooms and made some other modifications to make the scheme more viable.
“This is an important building in the centre of Hartlepool.”
Jomast officials always said that once permission was granted they wanted to be on the site as soon as possible.
A council spokesman confirmed that the latest full planning application, to convert the existing vacant buildings into a hotel with the loss of the nightclub and leisure club, had been approved last November under delegated powers.
Permission was also granted for a modern, bistro-style licensed restaurant and bar.
The Wesley, built in 1872, is a Grade II listed building.
In December 2007, the Wesley nightclub reopened its doors to revellers for a trial run after being closed for three years, but it has been closed in recent years.
Jomast has previously said new “high quality hotel accommodation” would be a great benefit to the town.