A FORMER town centre charity shop could be used as a training centre for "needy" young people.

Following the closure of the Buddy's for Children with Autism shop and cafe in The Rock, an application has been submitted for the unit to be used as a training space.

The provider is looking to offer 'return to work' courses to help young people aged 16 to 18 to enter employment.

Buddy's for Children with Autism shut its shop over the summer, with bosses saying the £2,500 per month rent was "killing" the charity.

The charity hoped to hire out the shop for groups to use as a meeting space in a bid to cover the rent.

However, it had to abandon this plan in August due to the "financial difficulties".

A post on the group's Facebook page read: "We have tried extremely hard to keep our groups going but sadly we have to announce that this is no longer possible from our base in Bury. We will however be going mobile as soon as we possibly can so it will be even easier for us to get to you."

Now North Lancs Training Group has applied to Bury Council for a change of use on the ground floor and basement of the unit, from retail to apprenticeship training centre.

In a planning statement, the applicant wrote: "For the last four years, the tenants in 8, The Rock, Bury, Buddy's for Children with Autism, as well as retailing carried out constant training for late teenagers and young people in customer service, retail, cooking and presenting yourself for interviews with CVs.

"Our intention is to carry out similar types of training to enable young people to access Ready for Work traineeships and apprenticeships. This would include teaching of life skills."

Under plans, three permanent members of staff will work at the site, with the building initially operating between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Wednesday.

North Lancs Training Group said this could extend to a full week "depending on the government's contracts."

Class sizes would average at about 12 learners per day.

To accommodate the change of use, the building does not require internal or external alterations, although the new tenants propose upgrading the decor inside, with the landlord's consent.

"We ask for your support in confirming the change of use to a training centre", North Lancs Training Group asked of Bury Council, "We are providing skills and guidance to many young people who are in need.

"In the current challenging commercial environment, I would ask you to look favourably on the application."

To view the plans, search application 64879 at https://planning.bury.gov.uk/online-applications/.