This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.
An asylum seeker centre planned for a residential area of Derby looks set to get the go-ahead – despite dozens of letters of objection and a 221-name petition against the project.
Objectors believe that the change of use would lead to anti-social behaviour and crime in the area, have an adverse impact on the community and would increase noise, traffic and overcrowding.
A community meeting for people living near the proposed site at the University of Derby’s Laverstoke Court in Peet Street, attracted 61 visitors and 125 written responses last month.
But councillors at a Derby City Council planning committee meeting on Thursday have recommended the change of use from student accommodation to hostel should be granted permission.
Mark Harris, of Ward Street, who is set to speak at Thursday's meeting, said: “I am against this centre being set up in this area and worried about what kind of people will be here. This area is struggling as it is, without introducing people seeking asylum."
The new centre, which could accommodate up to 240 asylum seekers, would be used to allow them to stay for up to three weeks while their applications to stay in the UK are processed.
The application has been submitted by Urban Housing Services, acting on behalf of G4S - one of three organisations responsible for finding homes for refugees and asylum seekers across the country. G4S also have similar centres in Wakefield and Birmingham.
(Image: Zena Hawley/Derby Telegraph)
An earlier community meeting for people living in the Peet Street area failed to attract many people after notification leaflets of the time and venue failed to be delivered to residents’ homes.
Responding to the application, the local police liaison officer said that there needed to be more communication with the community and that the site needed to be more secure and better kept.
There was no objection from the highways development control but a report suggested that cycle parking spaces should be installed on the site.
G4S has been looking for a site in the East Midlands for some time to complement its two other asylum seeker centres. The planning application for Laverstoke Court states that 25 people would be employed on the site and that there would be self-catering kitchen facilities on each floor in each block.
On a day-to-day basis, the application says that residents will be asked to be in the building by 10pm, a daily register will be kept and staff, visitors and residents will have to sign in and out. Asylum seekers granted refugee status would then be dispersed elsewhere, which could be anywhere across the country.
Asylum seekers are entitled to initial accommodation in a centre for one of three reasons - while the Home Office is considering whether an individual is eligible for support, while officials are assessing the application, and when the application for asylum has been refused but the applicant has yet to leave the country.
Providers are contractually obliged to offer three meals or £5 subsistence a day, supply toiletries and bedding and provide transport to medical and related appointments.
Asylum seekers from 35 countries have previously been dispersed to Derby – the top five being from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and Eritrea. G4S currently uses 216 properties in Derby, mainly within the private-rented sector, with 144 in the Arboretum and Normanton wards.