A COMMUNITY group bidding for lottery funding to upgrade the 'iconic' Melville Theatre have been given full backing from Monmouthshire councillors.

Monmouthshire County Council has granted a three-year lease to Melville Centre for the Arts (MCA), allowing it to submit a planned £235,000 Heritage Lottery Funding bid this month.

The group is bidding for the cash to upgrade the grade-II listed building in Abergavenny which dates back to 1898.

If the lottery funding is secured, a community asset transfer would be made to the MCA during the three-year lease.

Councillors spoke of their support for the project at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Council leader, Cllr Peter Fox, said it was "great to see" the theatre have a bright future.

"It's a wonderful facility and it's great there is a group who want to see that transfer take place," he said.

Ward councillor, Cllr Tudor Thomas, said the community was fully behind the proposals.

Cllr Thomas said the theatre allows young people without financial support to access cultural events and activities run by the theatre.

He added: "It's got a huge cultural legacy in the town and it's quite an iconic building."

Under the plans the lottery money would be used for 'major upgrading' of the floor space, fabric and energy efficiency of the main building, as well as for additional parking and new site access.

Land by the theatre for extra parking, and to ease access problems, could also be purchased for around £40,000 if the bid is successful.

Since March 2017, the MCA has managed many aspects of the theatre under a licence agreement from the council.

The lease agreement will save Monmouthshire council £55,000, although it will mean a loss £10,000 rental income.

Cllr Penny Jones said increased footfall generated at the theatre could also help the nearby Greenfingers project, a social service which gets those with learning disabilities involved in horticultural activities.