Posted: Thu 9th Mar 2023

Villagers anger as owner of a Flintshire hotel launches consultation on plans to house up to 400 asylum seekers

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Mar 9th, 2023

A Flintshire village of just 1,500 people could have its number swelled with hundreds of asylum seekers if the owner of a local hotel gets change-of-use plans passed by the local authority.

A pre-planning consultation has started for the conversion of Northop Hall Country House Hotel into a housing facility that could accommodate approximately 400 asylum-seekers and refugees.

Local residents are outraged by the proposals and have taken to the Northop Hall News Facebook page to express their concerns in no uncertain terms.

Over 160 people have commented on a post about the plans, and many expressed concerns over the impact of the plan on the local community and added pressure to local health services.

The 37-bedroom hotel in Northop Hall was previously known as The Chequers, it is located by nine acres of private woodland and secluded gardens.

The hotel ceased operations just prior to the COVID pandemic, it was bought last year for £850,000 by serial entrepreneur Na’ím Anís Paymán, founder of Paymán Investments.

At the time of purchase, Mr Paymán said he would operate the hotel as a wedding and events venue following a refurbishment, ahead of re-opening in late 2022.

He said the hotel would be revitalised “into becoming a hub for the local community.”

Mr Paymán said: “We very much feel that this acquisition will not only make for a very successful hotel, corporate events and wedding venue given its fantastic location in North Wales and proximity to both Liverpool and Manchester, but it also has the potential to bring employment and funds to the local area as well as attract residents as a base for various community initiatives.”

The hotel has remained closed.

Planning document image shows the temporary two-story accommodation blocks.

Payman 3 Holdings Ltd, one of Mr Paymán’s companies, has initiated a pre-planning application consultation.

It states the company plans to apply for a temporary change of use for Northop Hall Country House Hotel. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The consultation website reveals that Payman 3 Holdings Ltd plans to seek permission for a temporary change of use of the Northop Hall Country House Hotel to serve as an Initial Accommodation Hostel for asylum seekers for a period of up to seven years, subject to planning permission.

Initial Accommodation is defined as short-term housing that can be full-board, half board or self-catering, usually in a hostel-type environment according to a Home Office guide.

“It is for asylum seekers who need accommodation urgently before their support applications have been fully assessed and longer-term accommodation can be arranged.”

“The amount of time people stay in initial accommodation can vary, but around 3-4 weeks is normal, before moving onto dispersal accommodation.” The Home Office states.

The proposals include installing modular accommodation for approximately 400 people, with 250 individuals housed in temporary units that will be removed at the end of the seven-year period. Another 150 individuals would be accommodated within the existing building.

The contract to manage the accommodation would be handled by Clearsprings Ready Homes, as part of the £334,000,000, 10-year Home Office Asylum Accommodation and Support Contract for Wales.

Clearsprings Ready Homes is a UK-based company that primarily provides housing services for the Home Office, and has been responsible for all asylum seeker housing in Wales since 2012.

Delyn MP Rob Roberts represents Northop Hall, and grew up there, in a post on social media, he said:

“I must stress at this point that it is nothing at all to do with the Home Office, which simply assesses accommodation offers when they come in, which need to be complete with planning permissions and local authority approvals.”

He said: “A large number of the people we are talking about are extremely vulnerable and are fleeing desperate situations in various parts of the world. Some, however, are not.”

“But we shouldn’t get caught up in personalities or talking about the people themselves. There is no need for things to turn into scenes we have seen elsewhere in the country.”

He said: “Northop Hall is wholly unsuitable for a place like this.”

“There are virtually no public transport services. One small shop. One pub. No capacity in schools. No capacity in GPs. No capacity in Dentists. No capacity in local A&E and other health services.”

“The village is a mix of young families and elderly communities … Increasing the population of a village like this by about 35%, and with predominantly males, is simply not a viable plan. ”

“I am in constant contact with Home Office officials regarding the re-housing of asylum seekers in general and this site in particular and I have spoken with the Immigration Minister directly to voice our deep concerns. I’m also in contact with Flintshire Council officers.”

“I will do all I can to stop this from proceeding.”

Following the pre-application consultation there will be a full application to the County Council.

Residents have until 4th April to submit comments to the developer about the proposals, click here to find out more.

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