An historic Preston printworks is to be given a major facelift following a cash boost from the lottery.
Work is set to start to transform the Victorian Lambert Brothers printing press building in Glovers Court into offices, in a £650,000 regeneration scheme.
Bosses at Preston Council have signed off a £345,929 grant funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to help breathe new life into the empty property.
Permission was granted last year to renovate the building, which was once used a stables and then a printer’s workshop, and parts of it are on an Ordnance Survey map dated 1893.
The revamp is the first project under the Winckley Square Townscape Heritage Initiative, which will inject £950,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, plus other money, into the area to improve key historic buildings and the public realm.
Barry Cleminson, architectural lead on the project at Preston-based FWP said: “Without the lottery funding support the refurbishment would not be taking place and we would have been left with a prominent building in the city centre remaining unrestored and vacant.
“Thanks to the grant the project can now move forward and give the site a welcome new lease of life.
“There is demand for modern, refurbished small offices and the history and interior design, which will respect that heritage, will be an added plus.
“The size of the offices will suit small to medium sized companies looking for bespoke premises they can configure to their needs.
“It is also part of the wider regeneration of Preston city centre that we are now starting to witness, including the work to breathe new life into nearby Winckley Square.”
Part of the rear section of the building will be demolished and a new structure erected on the same area.
The front of the building will be largely unchanged, while the inside will be remodelled to create open-plan offices over a number of floors.
The fascia board, bearing the name Lambert Brothers, will be retained as an internal feature along with some hand-painted glazing removed from the front door.
Mr Cleminson said: “We looked at retaining as much of the original building as possible but unfortunately the existing walls are in a state of disrepair.”
Glovers Court Preston Limited is the company behind the development, while the plans were drawn up by FWP.
Work on site is due to start soon, and the overall project is expected to take six months to complete.
Local civic expert Aidan Turner-Bishop said: “It’s good that the building frontage is to be kept, because it preserves the character of the old back ginnels of Preston town centre.
“We need more of this. We need more of the old shabby, neglected buildings in the town centre being brought back to life.
“Modern buildings are very nice but we need little ginnels, court yards and small shops.
“You can go anywhere and look at major chains, but it’s the little back-street scruffy bits that are the interesting places.”
The leader of Preston Council, Coun Peter Rankin, approved the £346,000 funding for the building.
He said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund provided the funding to enable this project to progress.
“Glovers Court is a significant part of Preston and this regeneration project will improve the area for everyone.
“The current owners have come up with a scheme to reinstate the building, preserve original features where possible but introduce modern fittings, making it attractive and fit for purpose in a demanding 21st century environment.
“It’s fantastic to see another historical Preston building brought back into use. This supports ongoing regeneration projects in the city and will help to sustain our economic growth.”
A report to Coun Rankin said: “The building was identified in the council’s THI scheme submission to the HLF as being a project where grant support would be required given the gap between thew cost of conservation and the rental values achievable following conversion.
“This gap is known as the ‘conservation deficit’.
“The proposed grant award is the equivalent of the conservation deficit on this scheme in line with the THI guidelines.”
The Lambert Brothers printing business was established in 1899 in Glovers Court and the premises was later expanded.