Decision due on Stafford asylum seeker accommodation plans

Controversial plans to turn former student halls of residence into temporary accommodation for hundreds of asylum seekers will be considered by Stafford Borough Council next week.

Stafford Court in Stafford. Photo: Google
Stafford Court in Stafford. Photo: Google

More than 250 people have objected to the plans put forward by Serco for the change of use of the former Staffordshire University accommodation at Weston Road.

But the application has been recommended for approval by planning officers at Stafford Borough Council.

Members of the council’s planning committee will meet on Wednesday to make a decision.

If the plans are approved there would be 160 initial accommodation beds, providing urgent short term places for asylum seekers needing somewhere to stay before their support applications can be assessed. A further 322 places would provide “dispersed accommodation” for a longer term while applicants wait for their asylum claim to be fully determined, which could range from months to years.

Objectors to the proposals include Stafford’s MP Theo Clarke. She has called on Government ministers to scrap the plans.

Concerns have been raised by residents that the scheme would result in too dense a population of asylum seekers in one location and there would be a “clash of cultures” and “increased social tension”. There are also fears about a potential increase in crime and antisocial behaviour, as well as safety issues for local residents and children, increased strain on health services and welfare concerns for the asylum seekers who would be staying at the site.

But 18 people have written in support of the proposals. They said the scheme would be a good use for the vacant building, would deliver a much-needed resource and may even trigger improvements to local services.

Borough councillor Frances Beatty has called in the application for consideration by the planning committee. She has highlighted the concentration of refugees in one place, pressure on public services, permanent loss of training support facilities and community concerns of risk of social tension.

The planning officers’ report said: “In conclusion, the proposal is considered to be acceptable in principle and would provide specialist accommodation in a suitable location. The proposal would create additional jobs and re-use an existing building.”

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News