Archive for March 2003
March 28, 2003
The Angel Group, which now owns Caythorpe Court, near Sleaford, has confirmed it has had no approaches to use the complex as an asylum accommodation centre. At a meeting with Lincolnshire MP Douglas Hogg, a solicitor representing the company, Brian Yates, said an approach from either Government or local authorities would still be seriously considered. But with no such approaches forthcoming, the company was reverting to its original long-term plan for the 31-acre site. It wants to establish a residential estate with properties sold to owner-occupiers. Mr Hogg said: “The Angel Group said its preferred option was to develop Caythorpe Court for residential purposes. “This had always been its long-term objective but they had brought that concept forward and would now like to develop it for that purpose. “If it was so developed then obviously the risk of it being used as a refugee or asylum centre would disappear.” Mr Hogg said the company had already had discussions with planning authority South Kesteven District Council and intended to meet with English Heritage. “The Angel Group has told me that its preferred option is to use Caythorpe Court for residential purposes and that it has now made that its short-term objective. “However, in order to achieve that it will require a constructive approach from both the planners and English Heritage. “It is clear to me that if there are serious obstacles placed in the way of Caythorpe Court being developed as a viable Page 81 Refugee hotel bid dropped THE JOURNAL (Newcastle, UK) April 8, 2003, Tuesday residential site alternative uses will be considered.” Mr Hogg said he understood the Angel Group was not excluding use of Caythorpe Court as an asylum or refugee centre. But he had warned Mr Yates that the virulent opposition to such plans would re-surface should the company choose to pursue that option. “I made it very clear to the representatives that any proposals to use Caythorpe Court for asylum seekers or similar purposes would be vigorously opposed by the local community. “I think it is in all our interests that the proposal to use Caythorpe Court for residential purposes be given a fair wind.” South Kesteven District Council leader Linda Neal said she would welcome discussions with the company on the future of Caythorpe Court. “That would help our understanding of what the Angel Group is trying to do,” she said. “If you are involved in a process, you can always try to help and influence it. If you are not involved, you cannot. “Our main concerns would be for the villagers. We would not like to see Caythorpe Court developed to the extent that the existing services in the village cannot cope.” What do you think? Write to Your View at Lincolnshire Echo, Brayford Wharf East, Lincoln LN5 7AT. Or e-mail yourview@lincolnshireecho .co.uk
Anger at hostel
EVENING CHRONICLE (Newcastle, UK)
March 19, 2003, Wednesday
BYLINE: By Peter Young, The Evening Chronicle
A new battle is looming over plans to open a hostel which could be used to accommodate refugees in a Tyneside neighbourhood. A controversial scheme to convert a former residential care home into a hostel for asylum seekers was rejected by Newcastle City Council last June. An appeal was lodged by the operators, the Angel Group, and a public inquiry will be held next month. The inquiry will also consider an alternative application to convert the property, in the city’s West End, into two houses in multiple occupation. Bosses of the Angel Group now say the property will not necessarily be used for asylum seekers but could accommodate other groups such as students or elderly people instead. Members of the city council development control committee rejected plans for a 34-bed hostel plan at Bentinck Villas, Bentinck Road, Elswick, on the grounds it could lead to noise or anti-social behaviour affecting nearby residents, following objections by neighbours and ward councillors. The Angel Group already runs a bigger hostel for asylum seekers in nearby Westgate Road. Objectors say there are already enough hostels of various types in the neighbourhood and they have reached saturation point. They say there are not enough facilities such as schools, health clinics and transport and there is concern about groups of asylum seekers congregating. Coun Nigel Todd, who represents Elswick, said today local councillors are backing residents. “We are not prejudiced against asylum seekers but we are opposed to the appeal on the grounds that we think the domestic, residential character of the area should be preserved,” he said. “The issue is the changing character of properties in the area from residential to hostel use which is one we have been pursuing for well over 15 years. There seems very little in planning policy or planning law to protect the original character of the residential area. “It first came up with a flurry of planning applications for private residential care homes in the 1980s. The issue was that the character of the area was changing and our concern about that still stands.” Michael Young, chairman of Grainger Park Residents’ Association, said: “We are not against asylum seekers. We are against the grouping of this type of hostel accommodation in the Elswick and Grainger Park area.” Bosses of the Angel Group said the property could be used for various groups of people including students and the elderly, not just asylum seekers. A spokeswoman said: “The property was bought for beneficial purposes and the Angel Group would not like it to stand empty when there is a need for accommodation in Newcastle for all sorts of people. “Whether it is used as a hostel or houses in multi-occupation there are various options, not necessarily asylum seekers.” The inquiry is at 10am on Tuesday March 18 at Newcastle Civic Centre.
EVENING CHRONICLE (Newcastle, UK)
March 19, 2003, Wednesday Edition 1
Families fighting plans for an asylum seekers’ hostel insist their neighbourhood has reached saturation point. A number of women told a Government planning inquiry they already feel intimidated by groups of young male asylum seekers hanging around the streets and are frightened to go out. Local people are backed by council chiefs who have refused planning permission for the 34-bed hostel in Newcastle’s West End. Planners insist the project would undermine the regeneration of the West End under the council’s massive Going for Page 82 Housing earmarked for former college site Lincolnshire Echo March 28, 2003 Growth project. But the Angel Group, the company which wants to convert a former residential care home at 1-2 Bentinck Villas in Bentinck Road into a hostel, is appealing against the council decision. There is also an appeal over alternative plans to convert the property into two houses in multiple occupation, also for 34 people. The appeals, along with the objections, were outlined at a Planning Inspectorate hearing at Newcastle Civic Centre conducted by inspector Kathleen Woodling. The Angel Group already has a hostel for 200 asylum seekers in a former nurses’ home in nearby Westgate Road and neighbours said another will make existing problems worse. Jon Rippon, senior planning officer with Newcastle Council, said the neighbourhood was mainly residential in character but there were already 10 hostel- type units with 330 places including accommodation for asylum seekers. He said the council’s policy was to accommodate asylum seekers in more traditional housing where they can blend in with other families. “We are aware of the considerable concern among local residents about the impact this type of institutionalised accommodation is having on the residential character of the area,” he said. “It will harm the character of the area and will result in families moving out and new families not moving in which is contrary to the Going for Growth strategy and the strategy for the West End of the city.” Planning consultant Martin Robinson, representing the Angel Group and its subsidiary, Angel Heights, said the council’s own planning policies envisaged a range of house types in the West End and it was committed to social inclusion. “The city council have some very laudable aims and objectives with regard to social inclusion and have specifically identified vulnerable groups,” he said. “This may include asylum seekers.” Mr Robinson said the Angel Group was a well-established provider of accommodation and support services for asylum seekers for the Home Office in 13 regions including Newcastle. He said the character of the area was not just residential, but also included a hospital, business centre, bowling alley and several semi-industrial uses. Residents said the area was already multi-cultural. The inspector’s decision will be announced at a later date.