PLANS by Dudley Council to turn a detached home in Brierley Hill into a HMO to help rough sleepers get back on their feet have been slammed by residents living nearby.

The council has submitted an application for planning permission to convert the property in Victoria Street into a House of Multiple Occupation with five ensuite bedrooms plus an office, communal lounge and communal kitchen.

In a planning statement - the local authority says transformation of the property would provide accommodation to prevent rough sleeping amid the pandemic and residents would be supported to develop budgeting, cooking and living skills over a period of six months to two years to work towards a move into a more permanent home.

People living nearby, however, have raised a raft of concerns about the scheme – which has received government funding – saying they have not been consulted about it.

The council says the funding from the Next Steps Accommodation Programme was only confirmed in mid November which "left little/no time for formal consultation" as the project has to be operational by March 31 2021.

The authority said: "The Government bidding and delivery timescale meant we could only realistically bid for funds to convert an existing property.

"The large empty council house we had in Victoria Street had a high investment need and would otherwise have been recommended for disposal. If it was sold on the open market there was a possibility the property could have been purchased for rental/conversion to a private rented House of Multiple Occupation. Under that scenario it is unlikely that on-site support staff and night cover would be provided."

The successful bid for funding for the scheme, which will be managed by Dudley Council's homelessness prevention and response team, will provide £157,171 towards refurbishment of the building and extension and £292,916 to fund 2.5 staff members for three years. The staff would be on site during the day and night cover would also be provided and CCTV installed.

Planning permission is needed for the two-storey rear extension and a remodel of the building, following demolition of an existing WC/shower.

The planning statement submitted by the council says: "Whilst we do have some rough sleeper provision in a larger supported housing scheme we have a gap in provision for those who are too vulnerable to go there and who need more intensive on-site support.

"We also have specific gaps in provision with short notice hospital discharges for homeless/rough sleepers with mobility needs and this is why it is proposed that one flat will be suitable for wheelchair use and will have specific aids and adaptations."

The plan is recommended for approval at Dudley Council's next development control committee meeting on Wednesday January 13.

A petition with 25 signatures, however, objects to use of the property as a HMO due to worries about anti-social behaviour, the lack of consultation and fears about safety and the impact of extra residents in what is described as a quiet residential street; 27 letters of objection have also been submitted and one objector said: "There are vulnerable children and people in close proximity to this property. Some years ago Sycamore Lodge in Langley was turned into a HMO with nothing but problems."

A report to the committee states: "A vast majority of these letters object to the use of the property as a House of Multiple Occupation, which is not being considered as part of this application."

The report says issues raised include concerns about the overbearing impact of the development, loss of privacy, plus worries about noise, parking and added pressure on police resources and that a HMO would devalue their properties.

Recommending approval, the report says there would be "no demonstrable harm" to neighbouring properties and the proposed extensions and development would be "of appropriate design, scale and appearance which would not have an adverse impact upon the character of the area" and it adds: "The development would not raise any significant highway safety concerns."