Potential new managers of Skipton Town Hall have been given until the end of next month to come up with their proposals.

Skipton Civic Society and an unidentified trust have expressed a joint interest in taking over management of the hall from Craven District Council.

The arrangement would also include the support of Skipton Town Council, which wants to relocate to the building whether it changes hands or not.

In addition, a businessman has also said he would be interested in buying the hall and running it on a joint commercial and community basis.

And in case both options fall down, Craven is also putting together a back-up plan to ensure the hall stays open.

Last week, Craven’s policy committee agreed to extend a deadline for interested groups until the end of March at the latest.

Deputy chief executive Paul Ellis stressed that the council needed to have a back-up plan if nothing was received by the end of March, and even if proposals were received, they might not be acceptable.

In his report to the committee, he also suggested that the council might reconsider selling the building.

“Initial high level work on an in-house solution indicates that if the council were now to seize the initiative and put in place an internal management structure backed by appropriate funding, the council could continue to manage the town hall for the foreseeable future,” he said.

“There is a high level of staff commitment, innovation and, given the opportunity and a viable business case, an internal management solution could deliver a sustainable solution.”

He added that annual running costs stood at around £300,000 and major investment was needed to bring the grade two-listed building up to a reasonable standard.

Coun Paul English (Lib Dem), who is also leader of Skipton Town Council, urged the committee to be patient and assured them that a lot of work had taken place to put together a bid to take over the running of the hall.

He added that it was of the utmost importance that the building should not fall into greater disrepair.

“Never mind who runs it, the main object is to get it into a good state of repair,” he said.

Meanwhile, concerns were raised that any interested groups would not want to commit until after the result of the public inquiry into the shops and cafe redevelopment of 9 High Street and land behind the town hall.

The civic society has already said that the development, if it went ahead, would impact on the future viability of the town hall.

Skipton Town Council is currently based in offices above Barclays Bank, High Street. Its lease on the premises ran out in June last year.