CAMPAIGNING residents hope to take over the running of a former pub after plans were unveiled to convert it into a community centre.

Sally Buchanan set up the Save the Beehive group after it was revealed Colchester Islamic Community Centre had purchased the former pub in Bromley Road, Colchester.

She says most nearby residents were kept in the dark about the sale and had assumed any new owners would instead breathe fresh life into the historic pub.

She said: “I was shocked when I heard the new owners were not publicans.

“This pub has so much potential. The community should have been given an opportunity to take the pub on, but sadly due to a confidentiality clause imposed by the sellers we were denied that opportunity.

“Many in the community want to protect the pub which has stood there for more than 100 years.”

The group hopes to see the pub, which closed in August, registered as an asset of community value before reopening it as a community group.

This step has been taken to save pubs such as the Black Buoy in Wivenhoe and the Cross Inn in Great Bromley.

As part of the Colchester Islamic Community Centre plans, the building would be used for coffee mornings, educational classes and daily prayers.

The plans to change the use of the pub will be considered by the council and have attracted more than 100 letters of objection.

One resident of Bullfinch Close said: “It is the only pub within walking distance for Longridge residents which has a real family friendly, community environment.

“If it were to be as proposed, a community centre for a place of worship, then this would only appeal to certain members of the community and not to all in the nearby community.

“I feel let down we have not been consulted before this proposal.”

A paper petition, which will be presented to Colchester Council, is being circulated by Save the Beehive to nearby residents.

To celebrate finding a new home, the centre recently raised £1,025 for Colchester Foodbank.

The Gazette approached Colchester Islamic Community Centre for comment but it did not respond at the time of going to press.