WORK is due to start on preserving a Georgian building in the heart of a rundown High Street thanks to a £430,000 lottery grant.

Stockton High Street has been targeted by both Stockton Borough Council and national shopping guru Mary Portas as being in need of investment.

Now 42 High Street, which dates back 1821, is receiving £430,000 funding for renovation from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Stockton council.

A downstairs travel agent will remain but the upstairs and rear warehouse will be turned into residential units in an attempt to encourage people to live in the town centre.

The building opened as William Robinson’s stationer, bookseller and circulating library and has been a wine merchants on three separate occasions.

Current owner of the building, Mr Majinder Jagpal, said: “Without the grant assistance the project at 42 High Street would not be a reality because the costs of the works were significantly higher than the end values for the properties therefore giving a negative value and we would not have carried out the conversion works.”

Structural repairs will be undertaken including repairs to brick work, the roof and windows. Two apartments will be created on the upper floors and a further three apartments in the rear of the warehouse which will be accessed from Green Dragon Yard.

A spokeswoman for the council said it has been recorded that at one time the building had a very fine plate glass frontage and large cellars which extended under numbers 41 and 40 High Street.

Stockton Council's cabinet member for regeneration and transport, Councillor Mike Smith, said: "As part of Stockton Town Centre's multi-million pound regeneration we want to raise the profile of the town's history and heritage.”

Stockton council is investing £20m and cites a further £18m of private money being invested in the town centre. Mary Portas allocated £92,000 for regeneration projects as part of a Government-backed scheme. At its worst, two years ago, 27 per cent of properties were vacant in Stockton town centre but the situation is believed to have improved since then.

From 1821 to 1863 the building was William Robinson Bookseller, printer, stationer and circulating library. From 1876 until 1963 it was Hodgson and Downs Ltd Wines and Spirits.

The refurbishment is likely to be finished by the autumn.

More Stockton News