Owners of fire damaged former Wesley building in Hartlepool town centre hope to bring it back to life

Owners of the fire-hit former Wesley Chapel are moving forward with plans to create a landmark hotel at the site.

The historic building in Victoria Road was hit by a huge fire in December 2017, leaving it gutted internally and the roof destroyed.

The Wesley building on fire. Pics by Tom Collins

The Wesley building on fire. Pics by Tom Collins

The blaze was investigated by police as a suspected arson attack.

Hartlepool Borough Council granted Jomast Developments listed building consent in 2012 to carry out alterations and convert the building into a 49-bedroom hotel and make the lower ground floor a bar/bistro/restaurant.

Stockton-based Jomast have now submitted an application to amend the original proposals, pledging to go ahead with the hotel plan in the aftermath of the fire.

The plans have been slightly altered meaning the site would be turned into a slightly smaller 36-bed hotel.

The upper ground floor of the main building would be converted into a restaurant and bar while the lower ground floor would be split into five commercial units.

The units could be used for retail, restaurants, bars or financial services depending on demand.

Jomast bosses said the hotel scheme will remain as it previously was for the most part, with an added focus on making the best use of the main entrance.

A Jomast spokesperson said:  “The current application is a revision to the existing consented scheme which will create a better use of the very impressive main entrance creating a separate unit on that floor.

The Wesley building on fire. Pics by Tom Collins

The Wesley building on fire. Pics by Tom Collins

“The lower ground floor area will provide smaller units suitable for independent operators.

“Other than those variations the hotel scheme will be as previously approved.”

When fire broke out at the prominent town centre site in December 2017 flames could be seen about 20ft above the roof and attracted the attention of numerous onlookers.

Damage to the roof caused it to collapse, but the remainder of the building structure was not believed to have been badly affected.

Fire crew remained at the scene of the fire at the former Wesley Chapel.

Fire crew remained at the scene of the fire at the former Wesley Chapel.

The Grade II listed building, which dates back to 1872, was formerly used as a church, and later a combined nightclub and gym.

In December 2007, the Wesley nightclub reopened its doors to revellers for a trial run after being closed for three years, but it has again remain closed in recent years.

A design and access statement from Jomast detailing the updated plans states it will bring the building back into viable use and restore the roof to the site.

It said: “The proposal is to convert the existing fire damaged buildings so that they can be brought back into viable use.

“The present appearance and character of the buildings will be retained by the proposals.

“An outdoor terrace would be formed which would be served from the lower ground floor commercial units.

“The main access to the hotel would be located at the existing access to the leisure club.”

The plans would also include a new ramp and steps to allow wheelchair and ambulant disabled access to the reception area.

A new passenger lift would then provide access to all levels of the proposed hotel.

Hartlepool Borough Council planning department are hoping to make a decision on the proposals by the end of next month.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service