An “eyesore” town centre building will finally be transformed after being snapped up by a major property developer.

John Whittle & Son Ltd on Duke Street has this week been bought by Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC) – the Whitehaven News can exclusively reveal.

BEC is currently finalising work on the £5m Bus Station development in the town centre and will move straight on to transforming the old furniture store when the sale goes through.

The Grade II listed building has previously been described as “an absolute eyesore” and “a blot on the landscape”.

It closed in September 2018 after serving the town for more than 150 years.

BEC has not yet revealed what the development will be, but said there were “some really exciting plans” for the building.

The two parties are exchanging contracts this week and the sale will complete in four weeks time, giving Whittles time to sell off the remaining furniture.

The news has been welcomed by Copeland Mayor Mike Starkie, who said: “I think it’s fantastic.

"It’s an iconic building that when it’s restored to its original Georgian splendour, will make a big difference to the appearance and confidence of Whitehaven.

“With the Bus Station developed and Whittles about to be developed, this is just the beginning of a revamp right through Whitehaven.

“Alongside the Bus Station, it’s a springboard for some really exciting developments that are going to take place in the town over the next 18 months.”

BEC is a public-private partnership consisting of Nuclear Management Partners, Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, local authorities (Allerdale Council, Copeland Council and Cumbria County Council) as well as independent members from the private sector.

The partnership describes itself as “property developers with a difference”, which renovate buildings, look for projects in the community, or help to regenerate an entire town, with sustainable building and a low carbon agenda.