The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) has awarded a grant of up to £14,950 to allow Ryde Town Council to produce a feasibility study, carry out a building survey, draw up concept designs and produce a business case for Vectis Hall.

The step has raised the hope that a leading member of the Royal Family might eventually be able to visit the building, which was donated by a family member.

Ryde town leaders say they are delighted to have had their grant funding bid accepted, which means the project can now move to the next stage.

The Melville Street building was withdrawn from auction and sold to Ryde Town Council late last year, for £125,000.

Due to its poor state and its Grade II listed status, members said it would be a long-term project.

The plans is to start work within the next three to five years.

Mayor of Ryde, Michael Lilley said: "Vectis Hall was given to the people of Ryde by Lady Spencer, who is related to Princes William and Harry, for the first free school.

"It was a much-loved dance hall for many years and was featured in the 1970's film 'That'll Be the Day'.

"It had been left to rot under private ownership until Ryde Town Council made the brave decision to step in and buy it back for the community.

"This grant will enable us to go to the next stage and have a viable plan to seek major funding so it can be re-built with a sustainable community use for the benefit of all residents.

"I hope Prince William comes to open it, when finished."

Lady Spencer was Princess Diana's great, great grandmother.

Councillor Richard May, chair of the Facilities and Assets Committee said: "We are delighted with the grant.

"It will allow us to start the process of putting Vectis Hall at the very heart of the community.

"It is the first step of many as the building is currently in a sad state but we are absolutely determined to work alongside the community to help shape the future of this historic property.”

Allan Bridges, business development manager at Ryde Town Council said: "This is the second successful bid that Ryde Town Council have made to the Architectural Heritage Fund following similar grant funding for St Thomas Church.

"The fact that they have agreed to fund two projects really shows that Ryde is moving in a very positive direction.”