Leader calls for community to work together after asylum centre decision 



The Leader of Stafford Borough Council said the wellbeing of the community was their priority after the authority was told a government planning inspector had given the go-ahead for an asylum seekers centre in the town. 

Serco, who work on behalf of the Home Office, appealed a decision by the council’s Planning Committee to reject an application for the former Staffordshire University student halls of residence on the town’s Weston Road to become accommodation for asylum seekers. 

Following a four-day public inquiry last month (May), Planning Inspector, Gareth Jones, allowed the appeal for the centre which could house around 480 asylum seekers - including families, single women, and men. 

Councillor Aidan Godfrey, Leader of the borough council, said now was the time for organisations to work together so that residents, and future asylum seekers, would be safe in Stafford. 

He said: “Our town has an excellent track record of welcoming people from all over the world to our area and helping them make the borough their home - many of whom will have fled war or persecution in their own countries. 

“The Planning Inspector has decided that the former university accommodation in Stafford is suitable for this asylum centre and it is now important for the council, our partners, and voluntary groups to work with Serco and the Home Office to ensure the concerns that some residents expressed at the inquiry are addressed and allayed.” 

He added: “The health and wellbeing of everyone in our community is a priority - including those who live and work here already, and those who will make Stafford their temporary home.” 

In a decision letter to the council the inspector said: ‘Planning law requires that applications for planning permission be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.’ 

And it concludes ‘Overall, therefore, the planning balance is very firmly in favour of the appeal scheme. In the terms of the Framework, it would be sustainable development that should be granted planning permission without further delay.’ 

The council wrote to more than 1,000 people regarding the appeal with a number of residents given the opportunity to speak at the inquiry.  

People can see more information about the appeal and decision from www.staffordbc.gov.uk/public-inquiry  

An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country, often suddenly, because they are faced with persecution, war or violence, or trafficked to the UK. They stay in temporary accommodation until their asylum request has been processed. 

Press Release No 6044

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