Hartlepool regeneration chief gives update on hopes for £3.8m Wesley Chapel plans after devastating fire
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Six fire crews from around the region battled the blaze for hours on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning at the historic building in the town centre.
The fire was mainly located in the annex along Swainson Street that was last used by a gym and health club.
Pictures taken by Mail photographic editor Frank Reid on Thursday show the extent of the damage.
Brickwork appears to have collapsed, roofing burned and a large section of scaffolding has become unstable.
Victoria Road reopened on Friday but Swainson Street is due to remain shut for several more days.
The full impact on £3.8m plans to convert the Wesley into a boutique venue with 36 bedrooms, bar, restaurant and commercial units remains to be seen.
But Darren Hankey, chair of Hartlepool Town Deal Board leading the Wesley project, said it hopes it will still go ahead.
Mr Hankey said: “As Chair of the Town Deal Board, I was truly shocked to see the pictures and footage of the fire that occurred at the Wesley Chapel last night.
"On behalf of the board, I’m thankful that everyone is safe and unharmed, and would like to place on record my thanks to the wonderful emergency services who responded so swiftly and effectively.
"The Wesley Chapel redevelopment is one of five projects in the town receiving Town Deal funding and last night’s fire is truly heart-breaking for those who have been involved on the board since 2019.
"While it is devastating, the board will continue to work with our committed colleagues from Hartlepool Borough Council, our partners at Jomast and the emergency services over the coming weeks and beyond to try to ensure that this vital regeneration project continues.”
On Thursday, the operators of the newly-refurbished Grand Hotel opposite the Wesley announced they were closing until further notice because of the fire.
They said on Facebook: “As we work through this challenging time, our hearts are with the Wesley Building team and all those affected by this incident.
“We are committed to reopening our doors as soon as it is safe to do so and look forward to welcoming you back.”