A diocese has rejected claims it withheld information from community leaders during the sale of a former school.
Members of the Upper Dales Community Land Trust said they were not made aware in advance of a provision which would have allowed it to undercut other bidders for the Arkengarthdale School site.
The trust had hoped to buy the school site to create much-needed affordable housing.
In an open letter, the trust this week called on the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, to block an agreed sale to a commercial developer on the basis it should have been informed in advance that it needed to register as a charity.
Members of Swaledale with Arkengarthdale Parochial Church Council (PCC) were instructed they were legally bound to accept a £185,000 bid from a commercial developer for the school which was forced to close after pupil numbers fell to five.
The community trust said it was only informed by the PCC it could have sold to a registered charity for a lower price once its members had voted to accept the highest offer on church lawyers’ advice.
But the Diocese of Leeds has denied information was withheld from the community group.
A spokesperson said the Bishop of Leeds would be responding to the trust’s letter in due course.
They added: “At no stage was anything withheld from UDCLT as they have alleged.
“Moreover the offer letter from UDCLT expressly mentions the issue, saying that they had taken legal advice on whether the PCC was obliged to sell to the highest bidder.
“To now say they were not aware of the issue or that the PCC had not been open with them is simply not true.”
Stephen Stubbs, chair of the Upper Dales Community Land Trust, stood by the criticism.
He said: “Had the PCC been serious in wanting to find a way to sell to us, why did it not mention that as a charitable company our offer did not meet its criterion until AFTER it had agreed to the highest bid?
“Our offer document was lodged almost two months before they met to make the decision.
“Registering as a charity can be done in a matter of months and we would have been prepared to pay for the upkeep of the building in the interim.”