A controversial seafront hostel wants to continue taking in homeless people for another five years.

St Catherine's Lodge in Kingsway, Hove, was branded a fire hazard after a spate of blazes there last year.

But the allegations were denied by owners Top Class Investments Ltd whose permission to run it as a bed and breakfast hotel expired on August 12.

Councillors last year narrowly voted to extend its licence for a further 12 months.

Now the firm has asked Brighton and Hove City Council to renew its licence for five years.

In March, the council told The Argus it was trying to cut the numbers of homeless families it sent to St Catherine's Lodge.

It followed complaints from neighbouring businesses and residents about drinking and antisocial behaviour from tenants at the former £75-a-night hotel.

Hove councillor Jan Young said: "A lot of people were hoping that it would close after its licence ran out.

"We have not had a lot of complaints about it recently probably because people assumed the problem was going to go away if it closed.

"I think there will be a lot of concern when people find out St Catherine's could stay open for another five years.

"I would be quite happy to represent their views when it comes up for discussion at the planning committee later this year."

Victoria Cobbs, of Victoria's Sandwiches in nearby Sussex Road, said problems caused by people staying at the hostel had decreased.

She said: "I am not against it being a hostel because homeless people do need somewhere to go.

"We did have problems with residents coming over here and stealing our stock while we were unloading.

"But things have improved recently and if that continues I would not object to its licence being extended."

A council spokesman said: "The council has never stated that St Catherine's Lodge would be closed down.

"This may have been confused with the fact that its planning application was due to expire on August 12.

"There is a current planning application to extend the licence as a bed and breakfast for another five years which is subject to planning permission.

"As part of a longterm central government strategy we are aiming to move away from using bed and breakfasts to house homeless people.

"However, this change cannot happen quickly.

"We understand the concerns of residents but currently we have no alternative accommodation to house the people who are staying at St Catherine's Lodge."

The manager of the hostel, who did not want to give his name, confirmed it had applied to extend its licence.

He said: "You can see that there is a copy of the application outside. I don't want to say more than that."