Malsis School in Glusburn has won its fight to build houses to fund urgent repair work estimated at £514,000.

The first of two previously refused applications to build about five detached homes in the grounds of the independent school was approved on Monday by Craven District Council’s planning committee.

Councillors were told the scheme, which will see repairs to the Grade II listed Malsis Hall, lodge and iron railings, now had the support of English Heritage as an “enabling development”.

They also heard evidence from heritage consultant Dr Jonathan Clark that the advantage of enabling developments is money would be used purely to fund repairs to a listed building and it was probably the best solution for the school.

A legal agreement between the school and the council will make sure money raised from the sale of the land for building will be used to fund repairs and not to pay off any debts the school may have.

At Monday’s meeting, not all were convinced the houses should be allowed, with some believing it was not the council’s position to bend rules to “prop up a failing business”.

But councillors heard the scheme had the support of Glusburn and Cross Hills Parish Council and that it hadn’t received a single letter of objection.

Ward councillor Philip Barrett urged the committee to go along with the officer’s recommendation and approve the application, saying it was important for the future of Malsis Hall.

And Coun Ken Hart said it was the first time in 20 years a planning application had not received a single objection.

He added: “It is an ideal site and it will be a top-class development. Malsis Hall is in a state of disrepair and we are not bending the rules.”

The second of the previously refused applications – for about 41 homes on the eastern end of the school grounds – is likely to be considered at the planning committee’s May meeting.