THE Isle of Wight Council is looking to sell derelict Sandown Town Hall despite getting permission to turn it into houses nine months ago.

The authority says it does not have the £1.8 million needed to redevelop the site.

However, a community group has put itself forward to save the building what it views could be the 'last opportunity'.

In March, councillors voted to turn the Grade II listed hall, which once housed the town's fire station, into 11 residential units.

Read more about the decision here.

The scheme included four semi-detached houses to the rear of the property which would have been built first to fund the conversion of the main hall.

A feasibility study was undertaken in 2018 by the council to consider the building's future and prevent it falling into disrepair, said a council spokesperson.

Plans for the 'crumbling' hall, however, were submitted by the council's regeneration team after no offers were made to buy the site.

The hall on Grafton Street closed in June 2017 and was made an asset of community value later the same year, after it was nominated by Sandown Town Council.

As an asset of community value, the community is informed if it is to be sold to allow local groups to consider purchasing the asset.

Despite the nomination four years ago, Sandown Town Council did not submit a bid to the Isle of Wight Council and, at a previous meeting, decided, as a body, to support a 'sensitive redevelopment of the site'.

During the time frame offering the site for potential community bidders, a new party, The Common Space, came forward.

The Common Space, a non-profit organisation based in The Bay created to 'manage, restore, celebrate and create public spaces', now has until March 20, 2022 to come up with an offer and plan for the site.

Ian Boyd, The Common Space director, said they were happy to express an interest in the site and it would seem negligent not to create a social and community purpose scheme around the future of the town hall.

A number of interested parties had approached them over the years, said Mr Boyd, and now it was the case of pulling them together and working with the council and its regeneration team to fully explore all the possibilities.

Mr Boyd said they would at least put forward meaningful and practical ideas, instead of the approved residential use in what could be the last opportunity for the town hall.

The Isle of Wight Council said the three months would allow the party time to bring forward a 'valid proposal and offer' before potential disposal to other parties.

A council spokesperson said it will still consider marketing the site during a new moratorium period so that all options can be explored.