Residents 'unhappy' as historic Milton Keynes hotel to house over 100 asylum seekers

Former wedding venue will accommodate up to 107, mostly single, men under management of Home Office

By Olga Norford
Thursday, 16th December 2021, 3:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th December 2021, 4:03 pm

More than 100 asylum seekers could be controversially housed at Woughton House Hotel, which went into liquidation in October last year.

Initially it will accommodate 47, mostly single, men after the Home Office announced plans to commission it as a holding centre.

But the aim is the former wedding venue will provide temporary accommodation for up to 107 people before they are moved on.

Woughton House Hotel is regarded as an historic landmark

Residents have raised concerns, describing the announcement as "terrible news".

They were informed of the plans in a 'courtesy and information note' from Old Woughton Parish Council on December 14. It outlined the proposals, which would be managed by the Home Office and its contractors Clearsprings, based in Essex.

Milton Keynes Council will not be involved in any aspect of the management of the centre but "will monitor any issues that may arise".

Woughton House Hotel is a Grade II listed historic landmark located in Newport Road, Woughton on the Green.

Residents are concerned about security issues and the site's suitability.

Leif Tarp said: "This is terrible news. Without any warning whatsoever we risk having hundreds of these young men loitering around – making the area insecure.

"It's a completely inappropriate location. The site cannot even be secured properly. Local residents are very unhappy."

The Home Office says there are no plans for families to be moved into the centre nor to accommodate people under 18, but that is subject to change. It will also be welcoming the involvement of voluntary organisations, including those offering transport provision.

The note states: "The Home Office has commissioned Woughton House Hotel as a holding centre for those who have been assessed or awaiting assessment under Section 95 - commonly called asylum seekers. The Home Office will refer to the hotel as 'Asylum Contingency'.

"The aim of this temporary project at the hotel is to provide accommodation before people are dispersed to supported accommodation elsewhere.

"Forty-seven guests will be housed initially but there is room for 107, all of which may be single, mostly male. Guests will get £8 a week to pay for any necessary extras.

"There is no knowledge of the period of the project or any details of individual cases."

Woughton House Hotel, which was previously owned by the Mercure Hotel Group, was a popular wedding venue.