Bring Wesley back into use, says councillor

Published Friday, 15th December 2017

A SENIOR councillor says it is vital that the fire-ravaged former Wesley Chapel in Hartlepool is brought back into use given its key town centre location.

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, Vice-Chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Regeneration Services Committee, says the badly damaged building must not be allowed to have an adverse impact on adjacent regeneration sites.

He said: “Urban regeneration is at the core of the Council’s agenda and the former Wesley Chapel is close to the Church Street area where improvement works are already underway.

“Further phases of work involving Church Square and Stockton Street – immediately adjacent to the Wesley – are also planned and we don’t want anything to detract from the significant improvements that these regeneration schemes will bring.”

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher outside the Wesley Chapel

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher outside the Wesley Chapel

The former Wesley Chapel’s roof was destroyed in a major blaze on Saturday December 9 but engineers say it is otherwise structurally sound.

Councillor Akers-Belcher has welcomed a fresh commitment by owners Jomast in the wake of the fire to convert the historic building into a 49-bedroom hotel.

He says the Council has worked closely with Jomast in the past and will continue to do so to try to bring about the repair and refurbishment of the building.

“The Council is committed to working proactively with the private landowner and is keen to explore future development opportunities which match the Council’s ambitions for the regeneration of the area going forward.

“While the fire and subsequent damage caused is completely regrettable, it does now provide a fresh opportunity for all parties to look at redevelopment opportunities that would bring this iconic building it back into use and benefit the town centre, both economically and visually,” he added.

Jomast Managing Director Stuart Monk said: “We are dealing with this matter expeditiously and will be progressing with the conversion works as soon as practicable and will keep the council fully informed.”