RESIDENTS of a quiet street in Bulwark have questioned why what they called major work was begun on a house weeks before any planning paperwork was submitted.

Monmouthshire Housing Association (MHA) and its trading subsidiary, Capsel, plan to turn the residential property on Somerset Way into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) for up to six people, and submitted a planning application to Monmouthshire County Council on January 7.

But locals have been baffled as to why work began on the conversion at least a fortnight earlier, before any paperwork had been filed and before any residents had heard anything about the planned HMO.

They have also raised concerns over the proposed occupants of the HMO, fearing an increase in drug and alcohol use which could spill over into the street.

Rosemary Ward has lived in Somerset Way for around 35 years. She said: "I was in hospital before Christmas, and when I came home they had started the work. I didn't know anything about it and they hadn't contacted me."

Mrs Ward said there had been scaffolding around the house for several weeks, and workers at the property on a daily basis.

"They've been working every day, banging about until 6pm," she said. "They never asked me about the noise. I'm more or less housebound so I couldn't go out and ask them what was going on."

She added: "They posted me a letter but by then it had already started."

In letters of objection on Monmouthshire County Council's planning portal, other locals have asked why the work started without any prior warning.

When the Argus asked Capsel about the timing of the works, a spokeswoman said: "MHA have carried out some internal works to the property in the interim which are regarded as general upgrade and maintenance which do not require planning permission."

She confirmed the planning application was currently being considered by the local planning authority and would later go before the planning committee.

But residents want to know why they were kept in the dark about the planned HMO conversion until after the work had begun.

Many of the letters of objection filed on the council's planning portal reveal locals' concerns about the people who will live in the HMO.

Bulwark and neighbouring Thornwell are neighbourhoods where residents are already concerned about existing problems related to drug use and supply, and well as anti-social behaviour.

An MCC spokesman told the Argus the HMO would house single occupants, as opposed to families.

He said the HMO would be managed by MCC staff who would make regular visits, and a member of staff would be on duty every day during office hours. CCTV would be installed, he added.

But these measures are unlikely to put at ease the people who object to the HMO, saying on the council's planning portal that "current social issues could be greatly exacerbated" by the new site.

Mrs Ward's daughters said there were concerns around two HMOs in other parts of Bulwark, and they didn't want those problems spreading to the street in which their mother lived.

When asked about these concerns, the MHA spokeswoman said: "There is nothing to support the comment over any potential anti-social behavioural issues from future occupiers.

"Notwithstanding this, the property will be managed by MCC, and as such will be afforded more safeguards against any such issues compared to a privately run HMO."