RESTORATION work has started on the listed chapel at the former King Edward VII hospital, Midhurst.
The work is the first stage of restoration developers City & Country are undertaking and follows the demolition of the newer buildings and clearing of the site at the end of last year.
The announcement comes after a period of uncertainty for the restoration project when developers admitted financial backers had got cold feet and more funding was required.
In February City and Country said since plans were approved in 2011 for the conversion of the former hospital and the building of 232 new homes both ‘new build’ developers and banks had become ‘much more risk adverse’.
Financial backers were concerned legal restrictions could mean they bought parcels of land and built new houses they could not sell because parts of the historic restoration were not completed.
The developers then went back to the South Downs National Park Authority to negotiate changes to the legal agreement to alleviate the fears of backers.
Now restoration work has started and when complete, the chapel will form the centrepiece of the new King Edward VII Estate, providing a café and shop which will be open for residents and the surrounding community.
Managing director Helen Moore said: “It has taken real determination and commitment to bring forward this large and challenging project in such difficult market conditions but we are delighted that we are now underway.”
Design and planning director Simon Vernon-Harcourt added: “After many years of inactivity, it is a pivotal moment in the project’s history to see craftsmen on site again.
“The patched up and leaking roof over the chapel tower is now being stripped back and replaced with new lead work that will protect this unique Arts and Crafts building for generations to come.
“Masons, joiners, and stain glass window experts will continue the restoration over the coming months, returning the chapel to its former glory.
“With the scaffolding also going up on the sanatorium, the works to this unique building will very soon be underway as well.”