Residents in cul-de-sac 'stressed and anxious' about plans to convert house to HMO

Neighbours in an Oldbury cul-de-sac fear a planned house conversion could attract anti-social behaviour.

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

The property, in Suffolk Close, is set to change from a dwelling to a five-bedroom home and could become a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) accommodating a maximum of six people.

The application is from Mr Randhawa, of Brands Properties Ltd, based in Beeches Drive, Birmingham.

David Rowlands, a resident of Suffolk Close, and who is representing residents objections, said: “There are twenty, three-bedroom detached houses in Suffolk Close, which is a narrow cul-de-sac location with constrained access and parking.

“The homes are occupied predominantly by elderly residents and young families, forming a close knit and supportive community.

“I am sure you can imagine the significant stress and anxiety the discovery of this proposal has had upon the residents of Suffolk Close and the risks the proposed HMO imports to our ability to maintain the quality of life we currently enjoy, free from crime and antisocial behaviour that a residence of this type would introduce to the Close.”

Mr Rowlands said he had raised objections on Sandwell Council’s planning portal on October 1, citing over development of site, noise, and environmental concerns as reasons of concern.

Documents also show Mr Rowlands complaining about the conversion 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.

But Sandwell Council’s planning portal shows no evidence of any public comments on the proposed HMO conversion, despite it being clearly marked.

Mr Rowlands also raised concerns that both himself and residents were not aware of any official planning applications, and had only read about the proposed HMO in a report for a local newspaper.

He said he tried to contact council leader, Rajbir Singh, and Bristnall councillors Ellen Fenton and Saikha Kausar, but only managed to get a meeting with Councillor Fenton “purely on coincidence”.

He said: “We had quite a long conversation really and she said this is not a suitable type of accommodation for this.

“I actually showed her my house – the internals of my house – which is identical to the current proposed HMO just to demonstrate that the proposed conversion is inadequate.”

Mr Rowlands said he had received correspondence from John Spellar MP but he “failed to acknowledge the concerns raised by the residents or made any effort to offer support or guidance.”

He said: “In the letter John Spellar just blames Michael Gove, the new housing minister, over HMOs, which I understand. I was just disappointed with the response.”

John Spellar's response did not impress residents

Mohammed Saki, chairman of Warley Conservatives, said: “The council cannot give up on tax-paying residents of Sandwell, in this case the very own constituents of the council leader who didn’t even bother to reply or agree to meet them in person.

“The residents of Suffolk Close don’t have to go out of their way and fight for what they feel is right and they deserve. The council need to find a solution.

“HMO’s of any kind are unsuitable for a cul-de sac. The proposed HMO will cause severe parking issues in that small cul de sac, let alone causing havoc to the elderly residents who live there.

“With increasing anti-social behaviour and crime in Warley, these HMO’s aren’t part of the solution, but very much part of the problem.’’

A Sandwell Council spokesperson, said: “The council is aware of and fully appreciates the concerns being raised but is unable to take these into account given that the proposed HMO is a use permitted by existing legislation.

“The application for the certificate will be reviewed by the planning team in due course.

“This is not a planning application but an application for a lawful development certificate (on a matter of being lawful or not), so it is not for the planning committee to decide as it’s not a planning application.”

John Spellar MP has been approached for comment.

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