A PLAN to build more student accommodation in Aspley is ripping the heart out of a community, it is claimed.
That’s the view of local residents who have launched a campaign to try to prevent the old Flyboat pub in Colne Street being turned into university housing.
According to official statistics, there are currently 1,400 student homes in Aspley.
The residents have handed in a 56-signature petition to Kirklees Council which is currently considering a planning application by the Bhullar Partnership, of Gilead Road, Longwood, to convert the pub.
It was owned by Punch Taverns and closed when the landlord retired in early summer.
The pub, a Grade II listed building, was offered for sale in April of this year with Skipton-based property agency Westlake and Co. The asking price was £215,000 and it is not clear if the pub has been sold.
Brian Badminton, who lives on a canal boat at Aspley basin, is one of the objectors. He and other narrowboaters are regular visitors to the Flyboat, particularly for the Thursday night quiz.
He said: “Its closure has angered local people.The heart is being ripped out of the community.
“The Flyboat was a commercially viable pub trading well and, to the best of my knowledge, has had no issues with local residents regarding noise or rowdy behaviour.
“The Flyboat was the focal point of the Aspley community. There was no food and the TV was only turned on for special events. It was a traditional, sociable English pub, a real local.”
Michelle Williams, of Garforth Street, Aspley, was a regular visitor to the pub with her family. Her disabled son, 20-year-old Steven Benson, used to look forward to his outings to the Flyboat where he socialised with locals and played darts.
“We don’t want any more student accommodation, we want out pub back,’’ she said. “It is a big part of our community and now people have nowhere to go.
“The Flyboat has been a linchpin for our community. Ladies could go in and didn’t feel intimidated – it was a very friendly place.
“Some old and disabled people are really missing it and they are stuck in their houses now.”
She added that the residents had also enlisted the help of their local councillor, Andrew Cooper.
Michelle, 46, is a Huddersfield University student, currently taking a health and community course.
She added: “It is a fact that there is too much student accommodation and we are losing a central part of our community. We live in rented accommodation – are our houses going to be next?
“We would love it if the Flyboat re-opened and would welcome students who came in – it would be nice to see some young people in there.”
Objections to the Flyboat planning application can be lodged with Kirklees Council until Friday, July 20.
A council spokesman said: “We are currently awaiting more information from the applicant. The date will be set once this has been received.”