COMMUNITY leaders and residents have hailed plans to transform a crumbling former social club into flats.

Proposals have been lodged to turn the once-thriving India Tyres club in High Street, Renfrew, into 11 new properties.

People living near the B-listed building, which dates back to 1926, said it has become an “eyesore” after the doors closed for the last time in 1981.

The club, which boasted bars, a stage and a ballroom, was once used by hundreds of employees of the nearby India Tyres company, in Inchinnan.

Now plans for a block of flats are set to breathe new life into the rundown site.

A design and access statement submitted to Renfrewshire Council by DarntonB3 Architecture Ltd says there would be a mixture of one and two-bedroom flats that would be of “high-quality.”

And the firm has pledged to try to retain some of the historical features of the building, minimising alterations to its external appearance.

Renfrew resident Julie Leitch, 25, has fond memories of visiting the club with her dad when she was a young girl and is pleased efforts are being made to rescue the abandoned building.

She told The Gazette: “I am glad someone has shown an interest in doing something with the building. I only wish my dad was still around to see it when it is eventually renovated.

“He took me to a lot of events they put on for children and parents at the club.”

The building was created for the Renfrew Equitable Co-operative Society and played an important role in the town’s social calendar for decades after this.

However, in 2012, it was placed in the ‘at risk’ category by Historic Scotland due to its dilapidated condition.

Derek Mackay, MSP for Renfrewshire North and West, has previously campaigned for the building to be brought back into use, pointing out there had been an “obvious and unacceptable” decline in its condition.

Plans to rescue the site have also been welcomed by Councillor John Shaw, who represents Renfrew North and Braehead.

He said: “Whatever use is finally decided for the building, having it renovated and back in use will make a huge difference to the town centre.”

In its statement to the council’s planning chiefs, DarntonB3 Architecture said: “The Memorandum on Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas states that the best use for a historic building is usually the one for which it was designed.

“In this instance, due to the closure of the factory and declining membership of the club, it was put onto the market. In this case, it was necessary to find an appropriate alternative use without losing the architectural and historic features of the building.

“We feel that a flatted development is best suited to the property. We have endeavoured to minimise alterations to the external appearance.”

Council chiefs will now consider the plans, with a decision expected to be made in December.

The India Tyre and Rubber Company’s links to the area date back some 90 years, when it set up its Inchinnan factory.

An art deco office block, designed in 1930 by Thomas Wallis, of Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, later became an A-listed building.

However, the factory closed in 1981 and, after this, it was repeatedly targeted by vandals and firebugs.

A number of the former India Tyres buildings were demolished in 1982 but the iconic office block remained in place.

It was bought, renovated and extended by the software company Graham Technology, with work completed in 2003.

The design, by Gordon Gibb, of Gibb Architects, added a contemporary extension inspired by airships that were formerly built at the site.