MP criticises RAF Coltishall asylum plan as 'wholly unsuitable'

Jerome Mayhew has said the Jaguar Buildings where 90 Asylum seekers are being accommodated are "unsuitable"

Local MP Jerome Mayhew had said of the buildings' previous stint as an asylum accommodation that it was "unsuitable for anything other than a short-term emergency stopgap" - Credit: Archant

Revived plans to house asylum seekers on the edge of a former RAF base have again been criticised by the local MP.

Broadland District Council is considering whether to grant permission for the Jaguar Buildings at RAF Coltishall, in the village of Badersfield, to serve, for a period of 12 months, as an initial assessment centre for up to 180 asylum seekers.

The buildings were previously used for that purpose from April 2020 to February 2021 - during which time concerns were raised about the site's suitability, given the village’s small size and lack of amenities.

Some 16 residents have now objected to the new plan. 

Local MP Jerome Mayhew had said of the buildings' previous stint as an asylum accommodation that it was "unsuitable for anything other than a short-term emergency stopgap to keep asylum seekers off the streets during the Covid pandemic".

Mr Mayhew, a Conservative, has now confirmed he again shares residents' concerns - and that he has discussed the matter “extensively” with Home Office ministers.

Jerome Mayhew

Jerome Mayhew, Broadland MP. - Credit: UK Parliament

“The government recognises that such centres are best placed in urban areas where there is access to community infrastructure,” he said. 

“The Jaguar Building is the opposite: located in a small village, with inadequate community infrastructure or public transport. 

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“In addition, the number of asylum seekers to be housed there would have a disproportionate impact on a largely elderly small resident community. 

“There is increased pressure on the asylum system but this should not mean that wholly unsuitable sites such as the Jaguar Building are used.

“I hope that planning permission will not be granted and will be making a representation to the committee.”

He said he would continue to press the case with Home Office ministers.

Debi Sherman, director of planning at One Planning - the applicant's agent - said the buildings were “well suited for use as short-term accommodation”.

The Jaguar building, pictured in August 2016.

The Jaguar building, pictured in August 2016 - Credit: Google

She said the applicants had "invested heavily in making the buildings ‘fit for purpose’ and suitable for this type of accommodation" and that new measures, such as fencing around the buildings, and indoor and outdoor recreation areas, would help address concerns.

“The facility will meet the day to day needs of service users including full catering and laundry facilities.

“Access to medical services will be dealt with by the Home Office, via their contractor Serco, and will not place pressure on local NHS provision.”

The Home Office was approached for comment.