Asylum centre plan for barracks dropped after protests

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Indy Politics

The Home Office has abandoned bitterly opposed plans to convert a disused naval barracks into emergency housing for asylum-seekers.

The decision yesterday to scrap the proposal to house 400 single men at the former HMS Daedalus airbase at Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, was a fresh blow to David Blunkett's aim of creating a network of refugee processing centres.

Beverley Hughes, a Home Office minister, said that problems of converting historic buildings and providing access to the base had been behind the decision. The proposal had created a storm of protest in the seaside town, with thousands of residents joining demonstrations, and claims that property prices had slumped. The campaigners, who claimed the influx of refugees would cause crime, were backed by local councils and police.

The Home Secretary had wanted four processing centres housing a total of 3,000 refugees. Campaigners against a centre near Bicester, Oxfordshire have won permission for a judicial review of the decision to give planning permission.

The Home Office is seeking planning permission for a centre at Newton, Nottinghamshire, and searching for a suitable site in central Scotland.