A group that wants to save the Bronte birthplace in Thornton, Bradford, has received a huge set-back after learning at the last minute that the property does not qualify under a newly-introduced law which allows groups to bid to buy community assets.
The Bronte Birthplace Trust had initially been given the impression by Bradford Council that the house came under the Community Right to Bid legislation.
But Belinda Gaynor, Bradford Council’s operational estates manager, has now said that as the property was formerly lived in and constitues residential property it is not covered by the Act.
The Council has now apologised for the way it has dealt with the issue. Trust chairman Steve Stanworth said: “We were under the misapprehension that we had until the end of June to get the money together to put a bid in for the house which was on the market for £129,000.
“Our Trust needs to act quickly as the estate agents are ready to accept an offer in the next couple of days.
“I’ll try to get enough people together for a meeting tomorrow night at the New Inn, but we could be out of the picture by the end of the week, which would be sad.”
The double-fronted stone-built cottage at 72/74 Market Street was home to Patrick Bronte and his wife Elizabeth and it was there between 1815 and 1820 that Anne, Branwell, Charlotte and Emily Bronte were born.
The house used to be a museum run by Barbara Whitehead but in 2007 it was purchased by a London property development company for £180,000 and converted into flats.
Councillor Andrew Thornton, who is in charge of the environment, sport and sustainability portfolio for the Council, said the house had not been listed as an asset of community value in the provisions of the Community Right to Bid under the Government’s 2011 Localism Act.
He said: “The application from the Trust came in as an e-mail. The Council didn’t deal with it properly at the time, for which I apologise.
“There was a misapprehension that it could be listed. We didn’t handle the request in an appropriate way.”
The Trust believes that if the house was restored as a museum it would have a galvanising effect on the regeneration of the village.