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Rogue Wolverhampton developer who flouted rules blasts planning process for taking 'too long'

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A rogue developer dubbed as the 'HMO Daddy' who controversially turned two former business premises into housing said he flouted planning laws because the process was 'too time-consuming'.

Buildings at 51 to 53 Wolverhampton Street in Willenhall and 16 Butts Road in St Matthew's have 22 single bedrooms between them and have been used for houses of multiple occupation – HMOs – for more than a year.

But tenants living there will now be forced out of their homes within two months after Walsall Council chiefs issued enforcement action for the properties to be returned to their original state.

The authority's planning committee signed off on enforcement on Thursday slamming owner Jim Haliburton, of Darlaston-based J9 Accommodation, for 'completely ignoring housing legislation' as well as failing to conduct fire risk assessments.

Mr Haliburton, owner of J9, which boasts more than 900 rooms, remained defiant whilst speaking at the committee.

When questioned why he had not applied for planning permission, he replied the process was 'too time-consuming.'

He said: "The only thing I'm guilty of is turning empty derelict buildings and turning them into low-cost valuable housing for working residents, which can only be good for the area.

"Applying for planning permission is a long process and very time-consuming but the quality of accommodation I provide is of the highest standard, going over and above fire safety procedures."

Complaints were originally made about the two buildings in April last year. Since then applications have been made to formally 'change the use' but both have been rejected by the council.

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The buildings will now be returned to their previous state and all fixtures and fittings associated with housing ripped out.

Councillors Ian Shires and Sean Coughlan blasted Mr Haliburton for not going through the correct planning procedures, with councillor Coughlan disappointed the use of the buildings had only been made aware to the council through concerned residents.

He said: "This has been going on for longer than it should. We wouldn't have known about this issue if people hadn't of contacted us. It's not acceptable to simply not comply and ignore housing legislation. But personally, walking past the Wolverhampton Street site this week, the amount of rubbish outside was unbelievable."

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