AN order of monks who feared they were about to be made homeless will now be able to stay in Salisbury.

Prior Simon and fellow Benedictine monks Kenneth, Bruce and Francis moved to Principal’s House attached to Sarum College in the Cathedral Close in September last year because their last home at Elmore Abbey was too big for them.

But Principal’s House was not big enough to properly carry out their main duties of prayer and hospitality and their future in the city looked uncertain when Wiltshire Council refused them planning permission for an oratory and two small en-suite rooms in January.

But the monks launched an appeal against the decision and a planning inspector has now given them permission to build their extension.

Prior Simon said: “It’s been a great relief for us because we have been putting roots down here. It would have been horrible for us if we’d had to chop those roots off.

“We’re all very pleased to be in The Close, we’ve been here nine months now and it’s been a very happy time. We’ve settled in very quickly because we were made welcome, but we understand there are some people who didn’t want it to happen and are going to be disappointed.”

A number of residents in The Close objected to the plans and Wiltshire Council refused planning permission because councillors felt the extension would be too close to neighbours and would have an adverse effect on surrounding listed buildings.

Planning inspector Jennifer Armstrong said although Principal’s House is situated between listed buildings in a conservation area, the current building, which was built in the 1960s or 70s, has no architectural merit. She said of the proposed extension: “In my opinion this light, contemporary approach works well, sensitively responding to what the site itself has to offer, and successfully combining form and function.”

She said the extension would preserve the important elements of the setting and the character of the conservation area and would not be overbearing for the neighbours at number 18.

The monks are hoping the building work can begin next year, but will need to get approval of materials and landscaping from the council before they start the development.