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Fears bedsit will ruin 'family-friendly’ area of Smethwick

By Megan Archer | Smethwick | News | Published:

Families in Smethwick have launched a petition protesting against plans for an eight-bedroom bedsit in a 'peaceful' neighbourhood.

Gibson Drive. Photo: Google

Nearly 30 families have signed the petition calling on Sandwell Council to halt the planning application, which if approved will see a five to six bedroom family home in Gibson Drive turned into a HMO (house of multiple occupancy) for eight people.

The home is on the public piazza in Brindley Village, and residents are concerned a HMO with so many bedrooms will not fit in with the "family-friendly" area.

There are fears that the house could be used for rowdy students or ex-offenders.

Local resident Muhammad Waqas, who lives in nearby Berry Drive, said: "I moved from Oxford about a year ago and the reason I chose this particular neighbourhood in Smethwick is mainly due to its community and a very good family-friendly environment.

"Having a safe and family-friendly environment is very important to us as a family. An HMO In this area will be detrimental to the family-friendly environment of this community, It will bring issues like parking disputes, drug use and various other antisocial behaviours

"Parents will not feel safe with their kids playing in the park outside or hanging around on the street."

Claire Gibbs, who also lives in Berry Drive, added: "I have lived here for over 18 years and my children have grown up here. We have enjoyed the peaceful location and sense of community however this has somewhat declined over recent years as more of the houses become short term lets. Parking issues have increased considerably and the introduction of an HMO can only add to these problems."

And Krishna Kharel, who lives Gibson Drive said: "I've been living in this area over the last seven years. We bought our house in this area because of the nice, peaceful and family environment. This area is always appreciated for peacefulness. We don't want to live under stress, arguing with others due to parking, worried about drug dealers, worried about break-ins and anti-social behaviour."

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Manjeet Sidhu, who has been spearheading the campaign and lives on Gibson Drive, will be speaking at next week's council meeting in a bid to sway councillors against the plans.

She said: "Galton Valley Primary School is within walking distance of where we live and many of the children on the estate go there. The police has already raised concerns about crime and safety in relation to this proposal - we really don't understand why they have been ignored. One good thing to come out of this madness is that 'The Safer Neighbourhoods and Active Communities Scrutiny Board' at Sandwell Council is now going to look into Houses in Multiple Occupation across the region.

"This may be too late for our little community but could be instrumental in helping others save dwellings that have been designed for families and save family-friendly neighbourhoods."

The application, by Anjum Mehmood of Anjum Design Ltd, has already been to the planning committee once before but councillors were concerned about lack of parking.

Sandwell Council's planning committee will be discussing the application on Wednesday (Aug 14) at their next meeting.

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email megan.archer@expressandstar.co.uk.

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