The Home Office has been ordered to halt work converting a former RAF base into accommodation for asylum seekers amid ongoing concerns about the suitability of such sites. RAF Scampton was an air force station and former Ministry of Defence site located in the West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire. It is one of two surplus military bases which the Home Office announced in March would be repurposed for housing asylum-seekers who arrive in the United Kingdom.
However, this morning, West Lindsey District Council, the local government body empowered by law to exercise planning functions over the area, issued a Temporary Stop Notice against the Home Office due to a “breach of planning control” relating specifically to the Listed Buildings and archaeology on the site. It said the breaches related to the installation of fences, “intrusive” surveying works, groundworks and connections to utilities which had “the potential to cause irreversible damage to important heritage assets”.
The Temporary Stop Notice takes immediate effect from 07:00 BST today and prohibits ongoing development of the site for 28 days unless withdrawn earlier. The Home Office have yet to comment on the West Lindsey District Council’s decision.
The order to halt work on RAF Scampton adds to the controversy surrounding plans by the government to house asylum seekers in the former military base. Earlier this year, the High Court reserved judgement on a legal challenge to the government’s decision by West Lindsey District Council and Braintree District Council, two local authorities opposed to the decision to use RAF Scampton as a centre for asylum accommodation. The judicial review is set to be heard by the High Court on October 31, 2023.
Sally Grindrod-Smith, Director of Planning Regeneration and Communities at West Lindsey District Council, explained that the local authority challenged the Home Office decision as it had “failed to take into account important material factors such as the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan and the regeneration proposals.”
“Equally, we have always maintained that RAF Scampton would be a challenging site on which to deliver asylum accommodation, due to its previous use as an operational airfield and the important heritage assets, which require ongoing protection and preservation.”