Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Controversial plans to use a historic former student hall of residence in Cottingham to house asylum seekers have been put on hold just hours before they were due to arrive.

Thwaite Hall had been selected by the Home Office to house up to 200 single male asylum seekers as part of an initial 12-month contract with housing provider Mears Group in a move revealed last month. The first were due to arrive at the empty building today.

However, it was confirmed today the plans have now been paused after an intervention by Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis, whose constituency includes Cottingham. It follows a meeting between Mr Davis, Hull North MP Diana Johnson, East Riding Council’s housing portfolio holder Claire Homes and Home Office minister Kevin Foster yesterday.

Read More: Residents’ views on Thwaite Hall asylum seeker center plans

Mr Davis, who described the plan to house 200 single men in Cottingham as “laughable” said the emergency meeting was arranged after concerns were raised locally about the suitability of the proposal and the lack of proper and adequate public consultation.

Mr Davis said: “Pausing these proposals is absolutely the correct thing to do but it should not have required a robust and forthright meeting with the minister to get to this point. The Home Office’s management of this has been incredibly poor.

Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis
Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis

“There has been no consultation with the local community about these proposals and communication has been wholly inadequate. Residents of Cottingham deserve better.

“The Home Office and Mears Group now need to use this period to carry out proper consultation to inform on the suitability of these proposals. Every part of the country must do its bit and take its fair share of refugees but the idea that 200 single adult men are a good fit for the Cottingham area is laughable.

“A mix of families would be much more suitable. I will continue to press the Home Office to try to ensure these proposals work for both the migrants and, most importantly, the local community in Cottingham.”

Mr Davis said the current proposals would be unfair on both the people arriving to live at the site and the local community, with little apparent thought given to the potential impact on local services, particularly health and dental care. Both the leader of East Riding Council Jonathan Owen, and Councillor Homes have also written to the Home Office raising concerns since the proposals were first announced.

This aerial view shows the size of the grounds around Thwaite Hall
This aerial view shows the size of the grounds around Thwaite Hall

The historic hall with large open grounds was previously run by the University of Hull before being sold in 2018 as a potential development opportunity. Its new owners had planned to convert the buildings on the site into 30 flats and 29 townhouses along with 20 new-build houses and three townhouses.

Under the Home Office plans, the hall and an area of ​​the gardens would be set aside for new arrivals into the country who are awaiting confirmation of their asylum application before being moved to other accommodation. The Mears Group currently manages three accommodation sites for asylum seekers in Hull, including two hotels and a former residential home for the elderly.

Hull City Council initially protested about the lack of consultation with public bodies around the decision by the Home Office to start using the Royal Hotel in the city center. In late 2019. There have also been concerns raised about safety standards at the former residential home which is being used by family groups.



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