'Absolute nightmare' HMO plan for Walsall rejected

A proposed nine-bedroom HMO which residents feared would destroy their community has been rejected by councillors.

A house in Sandwell Street, Walsall, which could be converted into a HMO. Photo: Google Maps
A house in Sandwell Street, Walsall, which could be converted into a HMO. Photo: Google Maps

Members of Walsall Council’s planning committee decided the planned conversion of a Sandwell Street three-bedroomed house would cause a string of problems for people already living there and voted against it.

Developer Talati Investments said the HMO would be run by a reputable managing agent and house “professionals” who would be encouraged to use sustainable transport instead of cars.

But Councillor Aftab Nawaz told the meeting they were “having a bit of a laugh” if they expected the committee to believe that.

Chairman and council leader Mike Bird vowed to bring in a policy to look at the impact of HMOs in the area.

Resident Mohammed Bashir said: “I can only assume the (applicants) don’t live on Sandwell Street and I’m sure they don’t have a HMO where they live so they wouldn’t fully understand the implications it has on local residents.

“How much more, as residents, can we take? At the top of Sandwell Street, we have some form of supported accommodation which has brought traffic and a whole heap of issues.

“I live a few doors from (an existing) HMO and I can honestly tell you it is an absolute nightmare with the people that live there, my driveway being blocked constantly.”

Adrian Jones raised concerns about occupants of the proposed HMO being able to see directly into his house next door.

He said: “With the weight of public opinion – 30 plus local residents – and the local MP against this proposal, I can’t see why a second HMO in the street should be considered.

“If this project goes ahead it will destroy the local community with transient residents with no interest for the local area bringing the associated problems of noise, parking, traffic, fly-tipping and the fear of anti-social behaviour and crime.

“This is not a supposition, we have seen it with other such developments.”

The applicants agents said, under permitted development, they had the right to create a six-bedroom HMO without the need for planning permission.

Developer Harshal Talati said: “Between us and Genie Homes, who are the managing agents of the property, we have combined experience of 50 years working with HMOs.

“Our tenant market will be working class professionals from local shops, supermarkets, restaurants and hospitals. We do not expect most of these tenants to own cars.

“We would like to encourage sustainable transportation amongst our tenants, including walking, cycling and public transport.

“Genie Homes is a specialist managing agent in the Midlands and we have provided evidence of no anti-social behaviour problems in the properties they manage.

“It is unfair to assume the new tenants will add to the problem of anti-social behaviour in the area. The tenants will be fully vetted and regular visits conducted.”

Councillor Nawaz said: “I think the developer is having a bit of a laugh. They are trying to persuade this committee they are going to put in “professional” people and they’ll be alright.

“Every time a HMO comes forward to this committee, we’re always told ‘it will be professional people, they’re not the type who’ll litter, or have cars’.

“They might not think it probable but the possibility of eight or nine extra cars is there.

“I’m incensed this application has come forward and they think it will make the area much better. It’s not, it’s going to be a disaster for this area.”

Councillor Bird added: “We have been told if there were six in there, it wouldn’t need planning permission. However, there is an element of this being a business.

“If this goes ahead as a six-bed accommodation I’d be very surprised. One learns in business that you have to make a profit and that’s why the application before us is for nine.

“What I intend to do is instruct officers to bring in a cumulative impact policy. I am sick and tired of seeing a proliferation of HMOs and then we pick up the bill from the rubbish thrown on the street.

“I do not believe we are in a position to say yes. The people who live there don’t have a choice. We have a choice to say no.”

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