DETERMINED villagers are fighting to keep a former Ackworth church at the heart of the community.
Residents in Orchard Drive are “up in arms” over proposed plans by the Diocese of Leeds to knock down Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church on Barnsley Road to make way for a housing development.
Campaigners have already gathered 300 signatures in support of keeping the former church, which closed in 2008, as a community centre.
Edna Taylor, of Orchard Drive, said: “Everyone is up in arms about it on the estate. That church could be used all the time in this village because there’s absolutely nothing for the young people. They could have it as a community centre. It’s criminal to knock it down.”
Neighbour, Pat Hughes, 71, added: “We want it to stop as a community centre if it can’t be used as a church. The church belonged to the people of Ackworth, it should be given back to the people of Ackworth.”
Residents are also concerned about the safety of the proposal to build 11 homes on the church site and the fact that the development would overlook their homes.
Mr Hughes, who started the petition in May, said the combination of an HGV ban at the Barnsley Road and Pontefract Road roundabout, the low bridge on Doncaster Road and the addition of a new access road to the proposed new homes was a “tragedy waiting to happen”.
He said: “The biggest concern is they’re going to put a new access road on these plans. Cars already come flying off the big roundabout. If they build 11 houses on this site with two cars per property, we have got 22 more cars waiting to come out onto Barnsley Road. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen.
“If they do get planning permission all these issues come into it. The whole village is totally against it.”
The application will be considered by Wakefield Council’s planning committee on July 15. No one from the Diocese of Leeds, which owns the land, was available for comment.