A PLAN to refurbish Malton’s Milton Rooms has been supported by Ryedale district councillors.

The council’s policy and resources committee is recommending that the authority backs the development of the historic building – Ryedale’s largest community hall – and to donate £25,000 towards drawing up a plan.

Chief executive Janet Waggott said the committee had welcomed the improved financial management of the Milton Rooms and “adoption of a robust short-term business plan”.

In supporting the principle of the upgrade, it was accepted that Ryedale District Council was “almost certain” to have to make a financial contribution and annual contribution to the running costs, said Mrs Waggott.

The news was welcomed by Stephen Shaw, chairman of the Milton Rooms’ management committee, who said: “It has great potential to be a major economic driver not only for Malton, but for much of Ryedale.”

The £25,000 would go towards creating a design plan for the £3.5m to £5m redevelopment. The proposals have received support from The Princes’ Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund.

“The Milton Rooms are already recognised as a significant artistic venue, with seating of 300 and for a standing event, 400 people,” said Mr Shaw.

The management committee also has aspirations for the adjoining Assembly Rooms, said Mr Shaw. “We have reached a point where we have turned the corner financially. The Milton Rooms has no paid employees, just a team of volunteers, and operates its own box office arrangements.”

Tribute bands, food fairs, auctions and exhibitions are held regularly, said Mr Shaw, and bookings were picking up. “It is looking very encouraging,” he said. “Although the complete restoration work could take up to 10 years to achieve, the whole project is looking imaginative and exciting. We have found that when events are held at the Milton Rooms the footfall in Malton increases and we get good positive feedback from town businesses.”

There is also an appeal for volunteers – write to Mr Shaw at The Milton Rooms, Market Place, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 7LX or email themiltonrooms malton@gmail.com