Northop Hall Village Action Group “delighted” asylum seeker plans thrown out by Flintshire Council
Plans to convert Northop Hall Hotel into a hostel for 400 asylum seekers have been unanimously refused at a Flintshire Council planning committee today.
Northop Hall Village Action Group said it was “delighted” that the planning committee members had rejected the application, which had nearly 2,600 letters of objection sent to the council.
The property owner, Payman Holdings 3 Ltd, has submitted plans for the conversion of the hotel.
Plans included the provision of 2-storey modular units on a former car park area adjacent to the hotel, aiming to form an accommodation centre for asylum seekers.
The main building would accommodate 156 occupants plus communal facilities whilst the 126 modular units would accommodate 252 occupants, giving a total of 408 occupants.
Flintshire Council’s chief planning officer, Andrew Farrow, said the development was inappropriate to the character of the site and its immediate and wider setting and “would significantly alter the character and appearance of the hotel as a Building of Local Interest and disrupt its local distinctiveness as a historic asset.”
“The overall scale, siting and design of the proposed development will result in a detrimental impact upon the living conditions, amenity, and potentially the safety of the adjoining neighbouring residential properties as well as the living conditions of the occupants.”
Concerns also arose due to insufficient data about the development’s impact on local road networks and pedestrian safety.
“The proposal did not provide clarity on its sustainable integration within the community’s infrastructure. And there have been concerns over the site’s potential vulnerability to flooding.”
Dave Lloyd, the agent speaking on behalf of Payman Holdings 3 Ltd, at today’s meeting voiced disappointment over six cited reasons for refusal due to “inadequate information.”
They asserted that sufficient information has been provided, with additional details submitted or to be clarified through appropriate conditions.
He warned against the refusal, underscoring the council’s requirement for solid evidence backing each refusal reason.
Clear Springs Ready Homes (CRH), the proposed operator of this temporary site, was highlighted by Mr Lloyd as the “UK’s largest provider with over 25 years of experience in offering safe accommodation to vulnerable asylum seekers.”
He said the hotel site will be used only as initial accommodation (IA) for asylum seekers, as per agreements, until the end of the Assignment Accommodation and Support Contract (ASC) in February 2029.
Discussing IA’s nature, Mr Lloyd described it as centralised, full-board accommodation provided to asylum seekers “when they first enter the system.”
“IA takes the form of centralised full board accommodation, such as this case, it is advantageous at the front end, as it enables support services to be co-located and helps users prepare for their interaction with the assignment accommodation and support system.”
Mr Lloyd said that occupants at the Northop Hall site would be “single adult males typically staying for a short period.”
“They are provided with high-quality accommodation that meets the Housing Act 1985 space standards, additional privacy screening is provided with measures to secure further occupant dignity.”
“Welsh government officials have attended site and seen these spaces,” He said.
Mr Lloyd said: “Food is centrally prepared with communal dining recreational space and English language learning facilities available.
occupants are free to move within the community, with CRH offering shuttle minibuses to places of worship, recreation, education, and shopping alike.
This reduces isolation and aids wider integration.”
He said, “IA sites generally operated 80 to 90% capacity with a maximum capacity based on floor space.
Typically around 320 people will be present.”
The pressing need to house asylum seekers is recognised by UK and Welsh Governments.
“Two years ago tomorrow Flintshire committed to a city of sanctuary vision and values, approving this project would align with that commitment by temporarily addressing the need and promoting Flintshire as welcoming and a safe community.”
The Assignment Accommodation and Support Contract allocates £3500 in Home Office funding to the council for each bed space, ‘aiding community infrastructure and healthcare.’
Mr Lloyd stressed the importance of considering the consequences and options in today’s decision.
Approving the application ensures a regulated, temporary use for Initial Accommodation, where asylum seekers will be relocated outside Flintshire.
A refusal, however, would put the responsibility on the council and other providers indefinitely for any asylum seeker residing in dispersed housing in the future.
Mr Lloyd urged the council to be bold and forward-thinking and grant planning permission.
Speaking during today’s meeting Connah’s Quay Councillor Bernie Attridge said a site visit yesterday was “very useful to me just to see exactly what the application looked like, I was horrified.”
He said he felt for local residents who have had “sleepless nights” worrying since the application was submitted, it was an “opportunist” application.
Posting on social media after the decision, Northop Hall Village Action Group said it was “delighted” Flintshire County had rejected the application.
“It is the right decision for our village, which already suffers from inadequate infrastructure for the number of residents already living here.”
“This is also the right decision for asylum seekers.
It would have been inappropriate for their well-being to have been stuck in a remote location, without ready access to the charities and support organisations they need to start to make their asylum claims.”
“We want to say a huge thank you to everyone in the village and surrounding areas who supported Northop Hall Village Action Group in our fight against this proposal.”
[Photo: Laura Elizabeth/ Northop Hall Village Action Group] Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com