SHELTERED housing residents are preparing to fight plans to convert their communal lounge into a flat.

Elderly people living at Bournemouth Housing Society for the Elderly (BHSE) accommodation in Southbourne have started a petition to keep the residents’ lounge.

The communal lounge is currently available to residents of three BHSE accommodation blocks in Belle Vue Crescent.

Chief executive Steve Hayes said it was under-used and the idea of closing it was suggested by a resident.

But Betty Attwood, 85, said: “I think in a place like this where we have got quite a high percentage of people who are not able to get out and about as they used to, there needs to be somewhere to go.

“Sometimes you need a change from your own four walls.”

Joan Bourne, 67, said: “They say we don’t use it enough, I say we use it as and when we want to and we want to be able to keep doing that.”

And David Coomer, 69, said he was worried about the noise and disruption of any building work. “It will be like living in a building site,” he said. “This is supposed to be a retirement place where you can relax.”

Mr Hayes said the plans could be shelved if residents made more regular use of the lounge.

He said just 21 of their 202 residents responded to their consultation and only seven people wanted to keep the lounge.

“No decision has yet been made to convert the lounge,” he said. “We may apply for planning permission to do so, which if approved will preserve our ability to review the matter and convert the lounge sometime in the next few years.

“However, if in the meantime residents wish to start to make regular use of the lounge, which is what we would hope to be the case, it is highly unlikely that the lounge will be converted.”