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PLANS to upgrade a controversial hostel in Blackburn have been submitted to the council.

Jay’s Properties, which owns two similar properties in the town centre, wants to clear up the official status of Shadsworth House in Dunoon Drive.

In return for being given planning permission for the former old people’s home, currently classed as a ‘house in multiple occupation’, to operate as a homeless hostel, the owners have promised major improvements to the property and its rooms.

The move follows local resident Anthony Holmes raising an 800-signature petition in November calling for the closure of Shadsworth House because of alleged ‘anti-social behaviour’ by occupants.

In 2003, Jay’s Properties, applied for planning permission to convert the building into a homeless hostel which was refused.

Since then, it has housed people suffering personal crisis including homelessness and addiction.

In a letter to Blackburn with Darwen council supporting the application, the owners’ agents Smith Planning Consultancy said many residents have lived at Shadsworth House for ten years, few are accommodated on a nightly basis and support is given to tackle medical and other problems.

It says: “Residents are referred from sources including local authorities, hospitals, prisons, hospitals and charitable organisations. Those in need of housing have no alternative but a hostel or sleep on the streets.

“Shadsworth House currently comprises 59 bedrooms, lounge, kitchen-diner, laundry room and office.

“This application provides an opportunity to alter and refurbish the building’s interior with two additional lounges, five new snack rooms, a larger dining area and a reduction in bedrooms from 59 to 46.

“A new boiler system will be installed.”

Shadsworth councillor Tony Humphrys said: “There have been concerns expressed about this hostel but there is a need such establishments. I shall be talking to the council and the owners about their plans.”

Borough neighbourhoods director Sayyed Osman said: “The council has received a planning application for change of status for Shadsworth House to a hostel.

“This will be subject to the normal planning process and local consultation.”