Cabins used by asylum seekers need to be removed from car park of Dunchurch hotel

Councillors suggest owners were ‘cashing in’ on the need for temporary accommodation

A library picture of one of the cabins, or 'pods' outside the entrance
A library picture of one of the cabins, or 'pods' outside the entrance

Forty one-bedroom cabins will have to be removed from the car park of the Dunchurch Park Hotel after councillors suggested that the owners were cashing in on the need for temporary accommodation for asylum seekers.

MP Jeremy Wright was among those to object to the plan put forward by the Signature Group with neighbours and councillors also raising concerns about traffic, security and lack of integration between hotel residents and villagers. The removal of a security cabin and entry gate had ‘disappointed’ Warwickshire Police.

Prior to this week’s [WED] meeting of Rugby Borough Council’s planning committee when the plans were discussed, the chief officer for growth and investment, Nicola Smith, advised councillors that the application had not been made by the Home Office and that the cabins were currently unoccupied.

A report explained that parts of the hotel were Grade II listed as were the grounds surrounding the building and car park which housed the cabins, all of which had been painted green.

Planning agent Agent Rhys Bradshaw told the meeting that the units were situated away from the more historic parts of the main building and added: "Any harm is far outweighed by the public benefits of providing accommodation to some of the most vulnerable placed in the UK’s care.

“Dunchurch offers a safe and peaceful environment and has been praised by both the Home Office and county council for being an exemplar facility.

“Residents have integrated into the community.”

But councillors were unconvinced, with Cllr Tim Willis (Con, Wolston and the Lawfords) suggesting that the scheme would be ‘a very opportunistic way of clawing back the damage of the pandemic’.

Cllr Neil Sandison (Lib Dem, Eastlands) added: “Many members will have had some sympathy with the former humanitarian use of the site to assist genuine refugees who are fleeing for their lives. However, it seems to have moved from that to being purely a commercial venture.”

Cllr Deepah Roberts (Con, Dunsmore) said: “In spite of what has been said, there has been no integration between the residents and the community. In fact quite a few are distressed by what is happening there. I know, I live there.”

Councillors voted unanimously to reject the plans.