A HOUSING association has agreed to talk to residents after concerns were raised that their common room would be taken away.

Aster has lodged plans with Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to convert the room in The Oval, Cricketers Way, into a one-bedroom flat.

The organisation argues that since the block of flats became no longer restricted to elderly people, it has resulted in the common room “falling into disuse”.

But the proposal has drawn criticism from residents and members of groups which use the room, with some saying that it is used for activities including coffee mornings and family gatherings, as they have “little space” in their one-bedroom flats.

The room is also used by Women’s Institutes for committee meetings and events throughout the year, along with the cinema club for residents and elderly people in the community.

The plans also state that the garden area adjacent to the common room will be transferred from communal use to private for the new flat.

In a letter to TVBC, resident June Horsey said taking that part of the garden away would mean the loss of the “most useful, and most well used part of the communal garden – the patio area”.

She added: “This is an unacceptable because of the loss of existing facility to the residents – it would be extremely dangerous to locate the residents’ patio furniture closer to the steps.”

If the plan is given the go-ahead, the flat would be added to Aster’s affordable housing stock and will be rented in a similar way to the rest of the accommodation in the building.

A spokesman for Aster said: “Over the past few months we’ve looked at the space at The Oval and how it can be best used, this included looking at how regularly residents use the communal lounge. Over recent years it’s been used less and less, however in light of the concerns raised we’ll speak to our residents to find out if the way they are using it has changed.

“Ultimately, by redesigning the lounge area we will be able to provide another home for someone who needs it as well as reducing the overall costs for everyone living in the block.”

To view the plan go to https://view-applications.testvalley.gov.uk/online-applications/ and search for the reference 18/01589/FULLN.