COUPLES will be able to say 'I do' at Lye and Wollescote Cemetery Chapels as the historic building is due to be transformed into a wedding venue.

Dudley planners have agreed that the West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust (WMHBT) can give the derelict grade II listed building a new lease of life.

The decision was made at a Development Control Committee meeting on Tuesday (July 22), much to the delight of the trust, which scooped a grant of just over £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund last year to bring the chapels back into community or commercial use.

The building is expected to be up and running as a registration office for marriages, citizenship ceremonies, naming ceremonies, civil partnership ceremonies and wedding vow renewals, by autumn next year.

Work includes installing an access ramp and steps, a waiting lobby, two reception areas, a meeting room, staff office, a waiting room and the creation of parking spaces.

David Trevis-Smith, project organiser, told the News: "This has been a long running project. The trust first got involved trying to save this important historic building about ten years ago and it is a credit to everyone that has been involved up to this point."

He continued: "Architects are getting on with the detailed design and the aim is to be ready to invite tenders for building work in the autumn, with work hopefully starting this side of Christmas."