NEIGHBOURS fighting plans for a HMO in their quiet Oldbury cul-de-sac were surprised by an impromptu visit by the council leader to discuss the issue.

Council leader Rajbir Singh and councillor Ellen Fenton, who are both councillors for the ward in question, arrived in Suffolk Close on Saturday afternoon, to speak to residents about the planned conversion of a five-bed house into a six-bed house of multiple occupancy (HMO).

Suffolk Close resident David Rowlands said: "I received a phone call from the council leader at around 4.30pm on Saturday afternoon.

"I went around the cul-de-sac to let our neighbours know, and then half an hour later, he showed up.

"I was surprised to see the council leader and his fellow councillor arrive on our street on a weekend evening. I am doubtful, though, that the councillors will do something about it."

Mr Rowlands said he believed the council leader arrived to pay "lip service" after the council's Conservative opposition leader David Fisher visited the cul-de-sac at 12pm.

He said: "I think the council leader is paying lip service.

"He told us he could only get involved as a councillor, not council leader, which I didn't quite understand."

Georgina Neculau, also a resident of Suffolk Close, talked to the council leader.

She, alongside Mr Rowlands, both said cllr Singh had asked the neighbours whether they would "compromise."

She said: "He made a very interesting remark, asking whether we would be able to be persuaded to change the house plans from a five-bedroom home to a four-bedroom home.

"But that was after we'd explained how opposed we are all to it.

"I just thought it was weird for him to ask, knowing that we are so against it again, to ask 'would you be willing to compromise', and I don't know, that question didn't sit right with me."

Mr Rowlands said he had raised objections, on behalf of all residents living at Suffolk Close, on Sandwell council's planning portal on October 1, citing over development of site, noise, and environmental concerns.

Mr Rowlands complaining about the conversion of the property in question at Suffolk Close 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.

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

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."