THE future of a historic town centre building could be put into the hands of the community as it goes under the hammer.

The former Gooch and Housego building, Cornhill, is set to go up for auction on June 13.

But Ilminster Town Council is set to discuss its options tonight(Tuesday) in a potential last-minute attempt to bring the building into public ownership.

While no official plans have been put in place, mayor of Ilminster, councillor Philip Burton, is hoping to hear fresh ideas from the community about what to do with the building at the meeting at the Bowling and Tennis Club at 7.30pm.

Cllr Burton said: “This will be a chance for people to put forward their ideas and thoughts about the future of the building which is in a prominent position in the town.

“I am aware of a wide range of views about the possible future use of the buildings, the costs involved and how purchase and development should be funded and by whom.

“I hope people will attend the event so other councillors and myself can hear the local points of view at first hand.”

Ilminster councillors are then set to have a potentially confidential discussion about the plans they hear in a following town council meeting.

Gooch and Housego has since gone on to become an international businesses after being founded Ilminster in 1948, when it manufactured scientific optical component and crystalline materials.

Its business has moved into acousto-optics, crystal optics and precision optics plus photonic technologies.

As well as manufacturing sites in the US and three facilities in the UK, it has sales offices in France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.

The Cornhill building, which is being auctioned jointly between Clive Emson Auctioneers and Chesters Commercial of Yeovil with a freehold guide price of £100,000-200,000, also has lapsed planning consent for 14 homes and three commercial units.

Auctioneer Graham Barton said: “This is a well-known and substantial character property at the heart of Ilminster with significant development potential.

“It comprises a range of two, three and four storey buildings with its lapsed planning consent including partial demolition and conversion into a mixed residential and commercial scheme with two points of access.

“There is graphic potential for redevelopment of this historic property into a landmark scheme close to retail and other amenities in the town centre.”

The auction is set to take place at 11am at St Mellion International Resort, Cornwall.