Villagers leading a campaign to buy the birthplace of the Bronte sisters are in a race against time to secure the site through a new Government law.

The Bronte Birthplace Trust is looking to get a Community Right to Bid in place on the house in Market Street, Thornton, after it was put on sale for £129,950.

If the bid goes through, the house would be reserved for the group to buy if it raises sufficient funds or receives a grant.

The group, which aims to turn the house into a museum as part of a plan to help boost tourism in the village, has said it hopes to have the bid in place within the next week.

BBT chairman Steve Stanworth said: “Obviously if someone comes and puts a bid in before we buy it then it has gone again, so we are really going to have to be on our toes and get the thing together and make sure we can get in before it gets sold.

“I don’t think it will be sold in a hurry, but obviously other people could just come along and put a bid in and buy it, so until we get this in place we are in limbo really.”

Under the Localism Act, the Community Right to Bid was introduced this autumn, requiring local authorities to maintain a register of assets of community value which have been nominated by residents.

The Community Right to Bid is now in force and gives people the chance to bid to buy and take over the running of assets that are of value to the local community.

The new rules mean the owners of land and property on the list are unable to sell them without first notifying the Council.

This triggers a six-week moratorium, giving community groups and parish councils the opportunity to express an interest in bidding for the property.

If an expression of interest is received, groups then have six months to prepare their bid. At the end of this period the property is removed from the list and the owner can sell it to whoever they want.

Mr Stanworth said the group had applied for the Council to list the property, which it hoped to go through in the next week.

He said: “It could regenerate Market Street and put a bit of new life into it.

“Once we have established the Community Right To Bid we have to find someone to give us a grant to buy it or raise funds. The Bronte Birthplace Trust will then own it.

“We would like to run it as a museum, a working museum, where people can come along and be taken around it, and then the whole community could benefit. The Bronte Birthplace would link up with the Old Bell Chapel and the South Square project, so it’s a three-pronged tourist attraction.

“The objective is education, to get school children coming round and things like that.”