A HISTORIC building in the heart of Selby is set for a new lease of life after plans to transform it into a shop were given the go-ahead.

The Grade II-listed structure which forms the gateway to the medieval Abbot’s Staithe building in the centre of the town will be given a facelift which is aimed at preserving the area’s history and reviving the site as a tourist attraction.

The directors of Selby company Woodhead Seeds Ltd have won permission from Selby District Council to carry out a package of works at the 19th Century building in Micklegate, which has become dilapidated and in need of a major programme of repairs.

Once the company’s plans are complete, it is likely to be rented out for retail use, with the front of the site being replaced, the ground floor lowered to improve access for disabled people and the roof and the interior being targeted for refurbishment.

At the moment, the building provides the only access to the Abbot’s Staithe – also known as the Abbot’s Warehouses In a design and access statement submitted to the council, York-based architects Wright Associates – acting as agents for the firm which proposed the redevelopment – said: “This application represents the hopeful beginnings of the conservation and regeneration of the Abbot’s Staith.

“This is a key building in that process. Its unfortunate appearance and image as the doorway into the Abbot’s Warehouses does little at present to indicate the value of the heritage assets behind.”

The company said the aims of the scheme were to “improve the appearance and townscape value of this building” and to “render it more marketable and publicly accessible, and improve its image as the frontage of a scheduled monument.”

It said the proposals would “provide marketable rental space” and “provide a focus for public interest in realising the heritage and regenerative proposals of the area.”

Both English Heritage and Selby Civic Society have backed the facelift, with the latter organisation saying: “It will hopefully be the first step towards bringing the exceptionally important heritage building, the Abbot’s Staithe, back into beneficial use and available to both Selby’s residents and tourist visitors.”