Aberystwyth Town Council hopes to move its offices into a section of a former church later this year, three years after it used £360,000 of taxpayers money to buy it.

Neuadd Gwenfrewi, formerly known as St Winefride’s church, was purchased in early 2021 with the intention of transforming it into their base and a community hub.

Gweneira Raw Rees, clerk to the council, said at the time that the council estimated repair and development work will cost around £1 million, which will be “funded by various grants”.

The former church is the first building to be owned by the town council since 1974.

St Winefride’s Church and presbytery have stood on Queens Road since 1875, welcoming worshippers until it closed in 2012.

Originally marketed in August 2020 at offers around £250,000 by the diocese, which closed it in favour of revamping a church in Penparcau in a controversial move which caused a long-standing battle between parishioners, the town council ended up paying £360,000 for the building due to the “buoyant market” at the time, using cash reserves it had built up “over a number of years”.

Councillors signed off on an estimated £240,000 to restore the presbytery in January last year, a price the council “felt to be very reasonable due to the building’s condition”.

That work is continuing, the council said, with hopes the council will move in in the autumn.­

The lease on their current council offices in Baker Street is up later this year, so the council are hoping the presbytery will be in a fit state to house their offices by this time.

The council said it pays “significant rent” for its premises on Baker Street “which are problematic in terms of access and which do not encourage public participation”.

The revamped presbytery will be home to the council offices and meeting rooms.

The plan is just the first stage of the full scheme to create a “fully accessible cultural and community centre, providing event space, flexible multi-purpose facilities for local groups, a civic space for town events, offices for the council and a functional outdoor space” on the site.

The council continues to search for funding to allow for the completion of the entire project.­

Aberystwyth Town Council held a community consultation on what to do with the site last year.

The first year of ownership saw the council ensuring the building is safe and secure and fixing any structural issues brought about by being laid empty for more than nine years before full renovations began.

Later plans for the site include rebuilding the garage and former Scout hut as a passive house to be used as a resource for the local community.

The town council said in a statement: “Work to refurbish the presbytery is already underway and proceeding well.

“As with any building project, we are unable to give a definitive completion date but work is progressing steadily and we hope to be in by the autumn.

“We also are in the process of submitting a full application to the Community Ownership Fund to secure funding for the renovations.”