CAMPAIGNERS fighting to reopen Bromsgrove Museum have been boosted by its former home being approved as an asset of community value.

In April, the Advertiser reported on the future of the building, which originally closed in 2008 because, the authority said, of the running costs and a reduction in the visitor numbers.

After the closure campaigners, led by the Norton Collection Museum Trust, negotiated to buy the building and reopen the museum.

Last July the trust agreed to purchase the building for £200,000. It was given six months, but during this period other locations were looked at including the United Reform Church and the Steps House building.

After the trust was unsuccessful in negotiations for both, attention moved back to the Birmingham Road building.

But campaigners were dealt a blow in April when members of Bromsgrove District Council's cabinet voted to make the former Bromsgrove Museum building available to purchase or rent.

At the last meeting of the authority's cabinet, senior members discussed a request from the trust to nominate the building as an Asset of Community Value, (ACV).

An ACV, introduced under the Localism Act 2011, gives interested parties the opportunity to ask the council to list certain assets as being of value to the community.

Once an asset is listed, and then comes up for sale, this allows an interested party from the community time to put together a bid to buy it.

A sale cannot proceed until six weeks have passed without a written expression of interest. If an interest is expressed, it cannot go through until a six month period has ended.

During the debate Councillor Mike Webb, the relevant portfolio holder, said although he had been outspoken on ACVs in the past, in this case he thought it would be worthwhile.

Cllr Webb added any approval of the ACV would lead to a cost to the council, covering ongoing running costs.

Councillor Mike Bullivant added he was supportive of the application, saying it would give best value for the people of Bromsgrove.

The application was approved following a vote.

Dennis Norton, from the trust, said: "It is good news, we are heading in the right direction.

"If we reopen, we have got quite a lot of artefacts that have never gone on display before. We would be able to build the Bromsgrove Guild exhibition, currently on display at the library."

Bromsgrove District Council’s executive director for finance, Jayne Pickering, said: "The sale of the building agreed in principle in April will shortly be temporarily suspended for a ‘window of opportunity’.

"This is a six week period that could be extended to a total of six months if any community group were to notify the council of their intention to purchase the property.

"The property may still be marketed for sale in that time.

"In this way, the legislation guarantees local groups an opportunity to raise funds and make an offer when such properties come up for sale, but it does not compel owners to accept any particular offer."