Bid to transform arson-hit Hartlepool landmark into boutique hotel moves closer

Bids to transform an arson-hit Hartlepool building and the town’s waterfront have moved a step closer.

By Nic Marko
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 2:55 pm

Hartlepool Borough Council’s finance and policy committee agreed that detailed business cases for the redevelopment of the town’s former Wesley Chapel and measures to improve connectivity between The Waterfront and the town centre and Seaton Carew be submitted to the Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing (DLUCH).

Hartlepool was one of 100 towns across England invited by the Government to develop innovative regeneration plans and potentially secure up to £25 million.

The council was informed last summer that it had been awarded the full amount.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Flashback to the devastating Wesley Chapel fire in December 2017.

DLUCH will release funding once it is happy for the projects to proceed after reviewing the business cases.

Speaking outside the Wesley Chapel, Councillor Shane Moore, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council and chair of the council committee, said: “I stood here just over a year ago when the Hartlepool Town Deal for Hartlepool was first announced.

“I’m back here again because we have just passed a significant milestone by agreeing to submit these two business cases to the Government for final sign off, which will enable us to draw down funding and get these important regeneration projects underway.

“These two key projects will deliver significant employment opportunities, stimulate economic growth, and bring a dilapidated heritage asset back into use.

The disused Wesley Chapel. Picture by FRANK REID

Alby Pattison, chair of the Hartlepool Town Deal Board, which brings together representatives of the local public, private and voluntary sectors, added: “I am delighted that councillors have taken this decision and it means that we are another step closer to realising our regeneration ambitions for the Borough.”

Councillor Moore added: “I’d like to place on records my thanks to everyone who hard work behind the scenes has got us to this stage. It is really exciting to see the progress that is being made on the Town Deal which has the potential to transform the town.”

The plans for the former Wesley Chapel, which has also housed a nightclub and gym, involve the creation of a 36-bedroom boutique hotel.

The overall project cost is £3.91million. It is proposed that the Hartlepool Town Deal funds the “conservation deficit” element of the project at a cost of £1.25million, with Jomast Developments funding the remaining £2.66million.

The Waterfront Connectivity project aims to enable better and additional use of The Waterfront, also known as the marina and its surrounding land, by providing direct connections to Seaton Carew and improved signage to Hartlepool town centre.

The project is seen as a strategic fit with improvements proposed by Network Rail for Hartlepool Railway Station, which are expected to be completed in 2023.

These include the reopening of a second platform and the creation of a northern entrance/exit.

Earlier this year, councillors agreed to submit business cases for two other Hartlepool Town Deal projects – a Health and Care Academy and a Civil Engineering Academy – to DLUCH.

Work is continuing on the business case for a fifth and final project - the reimagining of Middleton Grange Shopping Centre – with a report due to go to a meeting of the Finance and Policy Committee later this year.