Cul-de-sac HMO application withdrawn after successful campaign by neighbours

Neighbours have successfully campaigned to stop a property being converted into a home for six people.

Residents outside Suffolk Close. Photo: David Rowlands
Residents outside Suffolk Close. Photo: David Rowlands

The building, in Suffolk Close, Langley Green, was set to change from an average dwelling to a five-bedroom house in multiple occupancy (HMO).

But a sustained campaign by residents of Suffolk Close objected to the HMO as having a ‘detrimental effect’ on the quality of life of the incumbent residents and the ‘potential to devalue’ properties and damage community cohesion of Suffolk Close.

Now, an email shows the owner of the property has instructed his agent to withdraw the application for the HMO.

The email stated the owner will now refurbish the property to be a three-bedroom family home and subsequently rent it out.

The letter stated: “The agent has indicated that the property will now not be used as a HMO but instead is currently being refurbished as a single family dwelling.”

Georgina Neculau, a resident of Suffolk Close, said she was ‘over the moon’ to hear the application was withdrawn.

She said: “It seems we managed to get our messages across and we are so glad the owner finally reconsider and will provide a single family home which is in keeping with the nature of this close.

“The residents were all so relieved and overjoyed to learn the news.”

The withdrawal of the application comes after council leader Rajbir Singh and Councillor Ellen Fenton, visited residents last month about the planned conversion.

Councillor David Fisher and Councillor Jay Anandou also visited to support the residents campaign.

The borough of Sandwell is notorious for HMO buildings.

According to the most recent copy of Sandwell council’s public register of HMO’s, published in June this year, there are just 162 licenced HMO properties recorded.

The number of unregistered HMO properties for five occupants or less in Sandwell is not known.

Sandwell council does not have an article four direction relating to HMOs, under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

This legislation would enable planning permission to be required for the change of use of a flat or house to an HMO where three or more unrelated people occupy the dwelling.

A spokesperson for Sandwell council said: “The council’s planning service has acted entirely appropriately in relation to the HMO application in Suffolk Close.

“There are restricted grounds for refusing a HMO application due to the legislative framework that currently applies.

“The applicant decided not to proceed with the application on this occasion and advised the council that they wished to withdraw and therefore this matter is concluded.”

At a full council meeting, held on October 12, councillors voted in favour of an amended motion to ask local MP’s to write to the Secretary of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), to ask for a national landlord register.

The application had initially been submitted from Mr Randhawa, of Brands Properties Ltd, based in Beeches Drive, Birmingham.

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