THE IDEA of turning Ryde Town Hall into a landmark cultural centre has been the subject of a feasibility study.

The Ryde Empty Buildings Group was supported by the Isle of Wight Council's regeneration department — however the building is owned by businessman Joe Gladdis and nothing can be achieved without his agreement to sell.

The group is hopeful there will soon be a new opportunity to acquire the building and turn it into a landmark cultural centre for the Isle Wight that includes spaces for makers' units, small offices, digital and production areas, a café, occasional markets and exhibition space.

However, they were advised that a bid for grant funding was unlikely to be successful as there was no clear route to ownership of the building.

The group said: "There are ongoing and positive negotiations with the owner of Ryde Town Hall and other parties. We are hopeful that these will soon result in a new opportunity to revitalise the building."

Their vision is to establish a home for the creative industries, with the site divided into four spaces — the theatre, the studio, the market hall and the three-storey caretaker's rooms.

They would like these spaces to be sold on 999-year leases subject to a freehold that serves as the protection for the building and its uses for posterity. They want the freehold to be held by a publicly accountable body such as Ryde Town Council.

The group has looked at the fashion and textiles sub-sector in more detail, and has put forward a business model to re-purpose the venue to include a dedicated fashion and textiles maker space.

The feasibility study concluded: "This use of the building, instead of focusing on retail or residential is more appropriate to maintaining the architectural heritage of the building and improving

the vibrancy and resilience of the town centre which is currently highly reliant on a retail offering that will continue to come under growing economic pressure.

"These ideas have also been well received by the owner of the building who originally saw its potential for a music-related business or businesses but would be prepared to sell.

"The key to turning the Creative Ryde vision into reality is to find the appropriate purchasers of the four long lease spaces."