A charity dedicated to preserving Scotland's historic buildings says Ayr's Station Hotel can be saved, delighting campaigners battling to save the crumbling Victorian structure.

The Scottish Heritage Buildings Trust is to carry out a feasibility study looking at the prospects for repairing the 70 room hotel.

It comes after the South Ayrshire Council called in structural engineers to determine whether the landmark sandstone building should be demolished over safety fears.

However Una Richards, SHBT director, said the Trust was ready to step in.

"It is very rare that a building has to be demolished. They can usually be saved, it just takes time and costs money," she said.

Read more: Ayr Station Hotel : Could crumbling symbol of age of steam hit the buffers for good?

An exclusion zone around the Hotel, which has been neglected for years by its owners, was extended at the end of last month, which has meant weeks of disruption for those using Ayr Station, due to a risk from falling masonry and ironworks.

Yesterday, the council announced work is to begin to reduce the size of the exclusion zone, which has meant trains from Glasgow to Ayr are reduced to a maximum of four carriages, while many do not reach the station at all, terminating at Prestwick. Meanwhile services south of Ayr, to Girvan and Maybole, have been cancelled altogether. South Ayrshire Council said it hoped works to allow most services to return to normal would be completed by mid-October.

The longer-term fate of the hotel appears to rest on the outcome of a structural engineers report commissioned by the council after the exclusion zone was extended due to increasing fears about the building's safety.

But Ms Richards said the "iconic" building had been left to decline for too long and the council needed to explain why action had not been taken sooner. A dangerous building notice was first issued in 2013.

Ms Richards said: "This is an iconic building and a gateway to Ayr. You can destroy town centres by taking out key buildings.

"The question people should be asking is why the building has been allowed to deteriorate to such an extent. It was neglected by the owners, absent landlords. But why was it allowed to get in this state? Where were the council?"

She said SHBT's feasibility study would look at what would need to be done to save the hotel and whether there were viable and sustainable options for its ongoing use.

"Most buildings can be saved, but it takes time, effort and money. When a building has been allowed to deteriorate to the extent that Ayr Station Hotel has, then it costs more," she said.

Read more: Ayr Station Hotel : Could crumbling symbol of age of steam hit the buffers for good?

But we have already shown in Ayr boundaries don’t have to be demolished. 20 years ago we saved Lady Cathcart’s House in Sandgate, just literally weeks before the bulldozers moved in. It was in a worse condition than the Ayr Station Hotel".

Campaigners have held public meetings attended by hundreds of locals to call on the council to restore the building to its past glory, and claim that demolition and replacement would take longer and cost more, yet deliver an anonymous structure with a limited lifespan.

Esther Clark, founder of the Ayr Station Hotel Community Action Group said replacing the building would be wasteful and expensive. "Instead of of throwing aside precious Ballochmyle sandstone in a slow long painstaking demolition job, we should be restoring this important, beautiful building," she said.

She said the SHBT feasibility study was a n exciting development and could enable the community to raise up to £6m in heritage funding. However another £12m would be needed, which she said the Scottish Government should provide.

A combined demolition and new build would cost £20-24 million she said, so the move would save government funds. However, while some councillors are willing to back rebuilding, the area's MP Bill Grant had referred to campaigners as emotional, 'living in another universe' and failing to move with the times, she said.

In either course of action, the Council will have to seek approval for a compulsory purchase order to take the building over from its Malaysian owner, who has failed to respond to request for action to rectify the building's problems.

South Ayrshire Council Chief Executive, Eileen Howat, said: “The extended exclusion zone at the train station – and its impact on rail services – is far from ideal, but we’ve had to take this action to keep people safe and that’s something we cannot, and will not, take any chances with.

“Our priority right now is to do what’s needed to allow the extended exclusion zone to be reduced when safe to do so and for rail services to get back to normal, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

“Once that has been achieved, we will continue to progress the wider programme of public safety works as well as the works to complete a structural survey, which will help inform the next steps with regards to the building’s future.”