PLANS to convert a ‘dilapidated’ former NHS care home in Verwood into homeless accommodation are being recommended for approval.

Permission is being sought by East Dorset District Council to redevelop the former St Gabriel’s unit in Ringwood Road which has been disused for more than seven years.

However, opposition to its proposals has been lodged by residents and Dorset Police over fears about the lack of restrictions on who will be able to use it.

The council is planning to acquire the building from Dorset HealthCare NHS trust and to convert it into a hostel to temporarily house people who have become homeless to meet ‘a definite need’ in the area.

St Gabriel’s care home was closed by the trust in 2011 and has been up for sale for the majority of the time since.

Simon Love, Christchurch and East Dorset councils housing surveyor, said: “Our desire is to acquire this property and to changes its use because there is a definite need for such accommodation in this area and this property is ideally-situated for such use being as it is on a main bus route and close to local shops and amenities.”

Despite this, a number of concerns have been raised, including by residents and Dorset Police.

Objecting to the application, Ringwood Road residents Stephen and Nicola Collins wrote: “Greater clarity for the proposed use will be required in order to allay local residents’ concerns about exactly who will be housed in St Gabriel’s.

“Of specific concern is the fact that St Gabriel’s is in such close proximity Hillside pre-school and first school, also the local playground and youth football training club.

“It would appear that the planning application is more focused on the needs of the local heathland and has not addressed any risks to the local community.”

Concerns have also been lodged by Dorset Police about the lack of restrictions on who will be allowed to occupy the hostel and the lack of any staff based on-site.

Despite the application attracting more than a dozen objections, Verwood Town Council has not opposed the scheme and East Dorset District Council’s planning committee is being recommended to grant planning permission.

In a report to the committee, ahead of its meeting on Wednesday, case officer Naomi Shinkins said: “In general, the property will be occupied by households to whom the council will have a statutory duty to assist under homelessness legislation.

“The majority of residents are expected to be smaller households who will be accommodated on a short-term basis only.”