THE organisation behind the campaign to re-open Bodmin's Public Rooms has been buoyed by the overwhelming support of residents.
A mail shot survey by the Bodmin Community Association (BCA) received almost 600 replies, with 85.83 per cent strongly agreeing the building should be saved for the benefit of the community.
Many more residents responded to the Public Rooms pubic survey than Cornwall Council's consultation on the regeneration of the town, with just 356 residents bothering to complete the Bodmin Town Framework questionnaire.
The BCA has put in a bid to Bodmin Town Council to transfer the Public Rooms and museum into its ownership, and held preliminary talks with the council last week.
The association's dream is to turn the building into a multi-functional venue, and has estimated £1 million needs to be spent to create a top class arts and community facility.
The BCA wants to work with the council to obtain funding to renovate, restore and re-open the Public Rooms, and has already been awarded a grant for a feasibility study to be undertaken on the work required to re-open it.
BCA chairman Peter Old said: "We are extremely encouraged by the public's response to our efforts to take over the Public Rooms and re-open it as a community hall for the benefit of residents in Bodmin and the surrounding area.
"Initially, we would like the town council to provide us with a licence to operate the building, during which time the council would still be responsible for it, but the association would be responsible for operating it.
"This is because we will need time to raise the substantial funds necessary to carry out the total refurbishment of the Public Rooms.
" If everything goes to plan and we are successful with our funding applications, we will then hope to negotiate the freehold hand over of the building.''
The town council closed the Public Rooms last year, making six staff redundant in a bid to save money.
Mr Old said it the town council agreed in principal with what his association's proposals, the next step would be to apply for £100,000 development grant.
The BCA has put together a portfolio of intended improvements to the Public Rooms. It includes a revamp of the main hall and stage, with retractable seating for 300 people.
An open lobby with a box office, café and bar area are also being considered.
The association says it could also be possible to include commercial kitchen facilities, which would enable the building to be used for a variety of functions such as weddings, dances, dinners, plays, musical theatre and other activities.
Mr Old said: "The vision is ambitious, but there is no reason why Bodmin cannot be home to one of Cornwall's premier entertainment venues, capable of holding musical events, putting on theatre and films as well as hosting local community group events
"In order to create such a venue, we believe funds of at least £1 million will need to be raised."