£4 million restoration of former Hartlepool Post Office earns regional heritage award

A £4 million restoration of a former Hartlepool Post Office into a vibrant hub for creative industries has claimed a top regional award.

Sunday, 10th May 2020, 7:00 am
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher (right) with the Chief Executive of Hartlepool Borough Council Gill Alexander and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen during the opening of the BIS in Whitby Street in May 2019. Picture by FRANK REID

The BIS centre in Whitby Street was named Heritage winner in the first RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Social Impact Awards North East.

The awards were created to recognise the positive contribution that the surveying profession makes to society.

The Grade II listed BIS, which stands for Businesses through Innovation and Skills, had been derelict for years before being transformed into units, studios, workshops and office space in a partnership between Hartlepool Borough Council, Tees Valley Combined Authority and the Northern School of Art.

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Announcing the award online due to the lockdown, weather presenter Emma Jesson said: “The facility has continued to bolster the regeneration of the Church Street area and is a perfect landing space for businesses coming out of the nearby Northern School of Art.”

The BIS will now go through to the awards’ grand final due to take place at the Hilton Park Lane in London on September 24.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Regeneration Services Committee, said he was delighted at the award, adding: “I would especially like to thank all the staff in the council’s Economic Development team and Group Ginger Architects that I was privileged to work alongside to bring this historic building back to life.

“The building now firmly represents Hartlepool’s proud heritage together with state of-the-art facilities that capture the town’s ambition to have a vibrant and successful creative future.”

The BIS centre in Whitby Street. Picture by FRANK REID

Northern School of Art Vice Principal Pat Chapman said: “Providing a destination for our graduates in which to establish their businesses is a significant part of what we offer and I know that it is a draw for new students.”

Hartlepool Borough Council Leader, Councillor Shane Moore said the award was well deserved and offered his congratulations.

And Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It’s great to see that all of the hard work to turn the BIS from a disused building into a top-quality office space has been recognised by this award.

“I'm delighted our investment has helped in its transformation to support the creative industries sector in the town.”

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