Update on Wesley Chapel renovation issued after fire ripped through historic building

The extent of damage to an iconic grade II-listed building has been revealed weeks after a devastating blaze.

Earlier this month, a fire broke out at Hartlepool’s former Wesley Chapel prompting a huge emergency service response with roads in the town centre cordoned off. The blaze gutted part of the site and even saw one wall collapse.

Now, Jomast Developments and Hartlepool Council have issued an update on the extent of the damage and plans going forward.

A spokesperson confirmed the fire – on November 7 – caused significant damage to the side annex of the former Chapel, but the main building remains structurally sound and largely unscathed.

Adam Hearld, development director of Jomast, said: “We would like to thank Hartlepool Council Officers, Cleveland Fire Brigade and Cleveland Police for their swift response and rapid intervention to ensure the fire was quickly brought under control. The safety of our staff is paramount, and thankfully, no one was working in the building when the fire broke out.

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“Once we received approval from the fire brigade and police to return to the site, our initial priority has been to clear the building of any fire damage and debris, and this work is now nearing completion. 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 methodist chapel into an events venue with bedrooms, a restaurant, bar and commercial units.

Adam 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.”

Teesside Live previously reported how five fire engines were sent to the scene – with images showing flames and smoke rising above the scaffolding and roof.

Darren Hankey, chair of the Hartlepool Town Deal Board, 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, Leader of Hartlepool Council, added: ‘‘The Wesley Chapel is an iconic building, and I was saddened to see once again a fire engulf the building. As a council, we are committed to delivering key regeneration projects that Hartlepool deserves. I am pleased that despite this setback, Jomast, Hartlepool Council and the Hartlepool Town Deal Board remain committed to bringing this key local landmark back into use.’’

Six teenage boys were arrested in connection with the blaze and have been been released on bail while police carry our inquiries. Anyone with information should contact Cleveland Police on 101, quoting reference number 221645.

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