A MEDIEVAL castle will be fully open to the public for the first time if a £6 million project receives lottery backing.

Hay Castle Trust will hear later this year if they have successfully secured the bulk of funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund for the restoration and renovation of the 12th century site.

The project will see the keep, gatehouse, curtainwall, mansion and outlying buildings all be made safe, and opened up, if funding is secured.

Interior plans include a new state of the art exhibition gallery, event space, café and a series of large flexible spaces and associated works.

Estimations say the project would take between 18 and 24 months to complete if funding is approved, providing there is no major archaeological finds which could delay works.

Once complete, 12 jobs will be created in a range of roles from catering to office work. There will also be culinary apprenticeship roles created.

"It's a really dramatic building and a lot of people see its history which we aren't going to change," said Mari Fforde, acting consultant.

"We will be creating a viewing platform at the top of the tower so people can see down to the Wye and a lift which will provide disabled access to all levels of the castle."

The castle was built in the late 12th century by the powerful Norman Lord William de Braose and its remains include a four-storey keep and an arched gateway which are Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

A neighbouring multi-gabled Jacobean manor, which is Grade 1 listed, was severely damaged by fire in 1939, and again in 1977.

The castle's trust will be able to replace the roof of the manor, which is one of the most important elements of the restoration project.

Once renovated, the castle will be free for visitors but staff will have to make it sustainable to survive.

Mrs Fforde added: "The business model has to be sustainable as the lottery will not give you money forever.

"One way of doing that is through the cafe but the castle will always be free as the lottery don't want to charge people to come in."

The site was purchased by the Hay Castle Trust in 2011 who made it public for the first time before starting their current project.

The trust are also applying for several specific grants from other organisations as part of their bid to find £1.4 million which they have to source to match fund the project.

A planning application for the work is currently being considered by the Brecon Beacons National Park planning authority.

Hay-on-Wye Town Council pledged their support for the plans at a special meeting on Monday,

"It's a fantastic project in my opinion," said Mayor Robert Golesworthy.

"I should think that it will be a great draw to get people into the town and the council are fully supportive of the project."