A £1.15MILLION project to restore a redundant listed chapels building in Lye is a step closer to becoming reality after the Heritage Lottery Fund pledged its support.

West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust has been working up plans for the last few years to restore the Lye and Wollescote Chapels building in Cemetery Road and bring it back into community and commercial use..

The project has now received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and development funding of £42,300 has been awarded to help the Trust progress its aims and apply for a full grant of around £850,000 at a later date.

Bob Tolley, chairman of the West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust, said: “We’re delighted the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support and really excited to be involved with saving this building because it means so much to local people. “It is not only a place of great historical importance, it is also a lovely quiet place where the local community can escape the daily hustle and bustle.

“Thanks are due to many people who have worked with tireless enthusiasm over many years in order to reach this point.”

Standing in what was originally a Victorian landscaped park, the Gothic landmark building comprises identical Anglican and non-conformist chapels and is a rare surviving example of two chapels within a single building.

Currently owned by Dudley Council - the historic building which dates back to 1878 was severely at risk due to lack of use when the West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust volunteers stepped in to save it.

The Trust is now working towards taking full ownership of the building under an asset transfer arrangement.

Reyahn King, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the West Midlands, said: “We’re extremely pleased to give initial support to this project, which aims to bring to life these rare chapels so they may benefit the community once more.

“We shall watch the developing plans with interest.”

An educational programme is also planned to enable people to learn more about the heritage of the chapels and associated cemetery and it is hoped it will also provide opportunities for Lye residents and schoolchildren to get involved at the site.

The Trust also hopes to develop a new website to provide online public access to information about the building, its history and the conservation project.

Providing the further bid for lottery cash is successful, the restoration work would be carried out in 2014.