Update issued on £3.8m plans to transform Hartlepool's Wesley Chapel into hotel following suspected arson attack
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The update was issued as work to clear debris from the town centre building reaches completion.
The former chapel, which later became a nightclub and gymnasium, was damaged in a suspected arson attack on November 7.
In a statement issued on behalf of developer Jomast Developments and Hartlepool Borough Council, however, it has been confirmed that “the main building remains structurally sound and largely
It said "significant damage” was restricted to the “side annexe of the former chapel”, in Swainson Street, which was last used as a gym nearly 20 years ago.
Jomast development director Adam Hearld thanked the emergency services and the council for their efforts since the blaze, adding: “Whilst the fire will cause inevitable delays in the short-term, we are exploring ways we can accelerate the regeneration work and, as a result, reduce the impact of the fire on the project timescales.
Restoration work has been taking place since May to convert the Grade II-listed Victorian building into an “events venue” with 36 bedrooms, a restaurant, bar and commercial units.
Mr Hearld added, “We are committed to regenerating The Wesley, have already made great progress with the early works since May and expect to restart the restoration and conversion work imminently.”
The £3.8m scheme is masterminded by the Hartlepool Town Deal Board.
Board chair Darren Hankey said: ‘‘We know people in the town passionately support the redevelopment of this historic building and the regeneration programme across the town and it is pleasing to hear of Jomast’s continued commitment to the project and that ways of accelerating the positive regeneration work are being explored.’’
Mike Young, the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: ‘‘As a council, we are committed to delivering key regeneration projects that Hartlepool deserves. I am pleased that, despite this setback, Jomast, Hartlepool Borough Council and the Hartlepool Town Deal Board remain committed to bringing this key local landmark back into use.’’
Cleveland Police initially arrested three teenage boys on suspicion of arson and bailed them with conditions while inquiries continued.
Anyone with information should contact Cleveland Police on 101, quoting reference number 221645.