Councillors have unanimously agreed to move forward with plans to turn two listed buildings into apartments.
Croyland Hall and Croyland Abbey are owned by Wellingborough Council and have both been empty since 2011.
But a proposal to give approval to seeking planning permission to convert Croyland Abbey and Croyland Hall into 15 rental apartments was unanimously approved by the authority’s resources committee on Wednesday.
By converting them into 15 apartments for rental, it should ensure the historic buildings are preserved and also bring in money for the local authority.
The cost of conversion has been estimated at just over £1 million, and would generate about £100,000 a year in rent as part of the council’s investment portfolio.
Work will now start on moving the plans forward and securing planning permission.
Both Croyland Hall and Croyland Abbey were previously used as offices for council staff.
The buildings were vacated after the council reduced its workforce three years ago and running costs were considered too high to continue to use them.
Despite extensive marketing it’s not been possible to lease or sell the buildings, so a study was undertaken to look into converting them for residential use.
Several options were considered, including family homes, one-bedroom flats and a 23 room hotel, before expert advice recommended 15 apartments.
Council leader Cllr Paul Bell said: “We’d be looking at a mixture of two-bedroom, one-bedroom and studio flats.
“This would give us give us some premium apartments on the ground and first floors, and preserve the Jacobean Great Parlour.
“Croyland Hall and Croyland Abbey were both originally residential.
“There is a high demand for places to rent in the town, so sympathetically converting these properties back into homes would help meet that demand and also help protect the character and features of two historically important buildings.
“The biggest risk to these listed buildings is inaction.
“Even mothballed as they are now, they cost the council money for maintenance and repair, but with no return.
“Converting Croyland Abbey and Croyland Hall could mean that rather than the buildings being a drain on council budgets, instead they could become self-funding.
“Two key buildings could be preserved and much-needed housing provided.”
If planning permission is granted, the estimated £1.1 million conversion costs would be paid as an invest-to-save scheme out of the council’s capital budget, which is money in the bank that is used for major projects and can’t by law be used for running council services.