Chivenor-based interactive technology specialist Alastair Leslie is backing a plan to save the former Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Summerland Street.
Mr Leslie, whose work has featured in major cities all over the world – as well as in Harrods, Kew Gardens, the O2 and Edinburgh Science Museum – hopes to relocate his business to the church.
He is working with the Barnstaple Buildings Preservation Trust (BBPT) to develop a plan for the Grade II listed building, which has lay dormant since its closure in 1984.
“The idea is to split the space; I’ve seen a lot of buildings and this is one of the few that would work,” he said.
“We have got as far as drawing up plans – so far everything seems to be going in the right direction.
“It has a good opportunity; it could facilitate a lot of creative industries. I’m keen to showcase that kind of talent in Barnstaple – that there is a facility here and the ambition to do something.”
But any plans to save the 160-year-old church hinge on the success of a £900,000 BBPT bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Earlier this year, the trust produced an ‘options appraisal’ for the building, owned by the Diocese of Plymouth and administered by the local parish.
BBPT chairman Jonathan Rodney-Jones said the diocese’s plans to demolish the church had been put on hold pending the success of the funding bid.
“This really is a last ditch effort,” he said.
If successful the trust would use the stage one money to put together its stage two bid.
“We need to produce an economic development study for creative industries in North Devon,” added Mr Rodney-Jones.
“We also need to do some more feasibility work based around Alastair’s ideas.”
It has applied for a £10,000 Resilient Heritage ‘start-up’ grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund
“If all goes ahead we could get the cash and get the go-ahead in early 2018,” said Mr Rodney-Jones.
“The church seems quite happy with that timescale and we are trying to encourage them to see the space as a use for concerts etc.