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Date set for judicial review of Home Office’s decision to house asylum seekers at Wethersfield

A date has been set for a judicial review of the Home Office’s decision to house asylum seekers on a disused airfield near the Uttlesford border.

The High Court will hear the full legal challenge presented by Braintree District Council against the Government’s plans for over 1,000 male migrants at former RAF Wethersfield on October 31 and November 1.

On July 12, the first 46 asylum seekers were moved into the Ministry of Defence-owned base, approximately one mile outside Wethersfield village and six miles north-west of Braintree town.

RAF Wethersfield
RAF Wethersfield

This was the first phase of a structured plan devised by the Home Office, which seeks to increase the number of individuals accommodated at the site, which was last used by the Ministry of Defence Police, to a total of 1,700 in the coming weeks.

The decision to move asylum seekers into temporary accommodation within the grounds of disused military bases came after the Government revealed it had been spending around £7m a day on hotel stays.

Currently, each individual can be housed for a maximum of 180 days at the facility under special powers.

On July 14, at the High Court in London, a full legal challenge to the Wethersfield proposals was sanctioned, along with action by Wethersfield resident Gabriel Clarke-Holland and West Lindsey District Council in Lincolnshire in relation to RAF Scampton.

Braintree District Council will advance three grounds at the High Court, concerning environmental and equality impact assessments and a challenge to the use of Class Q development rights. This allowed the Home Office to avoid obtaining planning permission to use the Wethersfield and Scampton sites. The General Permitted Development Order allows the Government to develop Crown land in the event of an emergency.

Braintree District Council leader Graham Butland, the Tory member for Great Notley and Black Notley, told a meeting of the full council on Monday (September 4) that despite the Home Office promising to support the council in the scheme by donating £3,500 per occupied bed space at Wethersfield, communications have been vague and so far none of this funding has been received.

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