A RESCUE bid to invest more than £2 million to save the town’s most iconic building has been chosen as the preferred option by Knutsford Town Council.

Six proposals were submitted after councillors invited the local community and business developers to come up with ideas for 60 King Street.

The grade II listed property was home of the former Belle Epoque restaurant for 46 years until the council took control in 2019.

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Since then the dilapidated building has remain vacant and fallen into disrepair.

A proposal by a company to form a partnership so the council still owns the building was accepted by councillors at a meeting on Monday evening.

The applicant, described as an established developer of similar buildings, intends to reinstate the original coffee house concept or team up with a local food and beverage operator downstairs.

An enterprise hub would be created upstairs for local entrepreneurs, start ups and freelances with local makers and artists using the bedrooms.

Cllr Andrew Malloy said: “When I read this I thought I was dreaming. This is what we have all surely wanted for 10 years.

“The amount of money being invested, although it’s a long lease, to still not own the building is incredible.

“We retain ownership of the building. The building can also generate an income.”

Knutsford dad Jonathan Farber, who teamed up with residents to submit a community led proposal, said he is ‘not disappointed’ that his charity funded bid failed and hopes to work with the company.

The media and communications professional said: “Keeping it in the hands of the people is the most important thing. Half the battle has been won in my view.

“This organisation will be able to deliver something much quicker than we would have been able to and is an obvious win for Knutsford.

“I would be happy to propose a cohesive working partnership. My suggestion would be let’s all get round the table.”

Mark Radcliffe had pledged to help attract live music and cultural events.

The BBC Radio 2 and 6 DJ, who lives in the town, said: “Local residents who’ve been involved with the campaign for the property welcome the acceptance of the preferred option.

“We are confident their expertise will see the building revitalised and restored.

“We invite them to meet with us so we can ensure the local community’s ideas and hopes can be incorporated into a coherent and successful plan for all.

Councillors thanked everyone involved in the community bid for their ‘imaginative project’ and suggested the team may wish to work with the chosen company to develop ‘an amazing project’.

Four bids to buy the building were rejected.

A spokesman for Knutsford Town Council said: ”We are extremely conscious of the great importance of this iconic building and ensuring that it is preserved for future generations.

“The council has determined a preferred option which would see ownership retained by the town council whilst also securing significant investment alongside a diverse usage which we believe will be great for the town centre.

“There is still a great deal of detail to be resolved but we hope to meet with our potential tenant to get this underway.”