Council investigates possible planning breaches over delivery of pods for migrants at Dunchurch Park Hotel

We previously chose not to publish the location - but we feel the situation has changed, and we explain this below

One of the cabins, or 'pods' waits outside the entrance. Photo taken last week when we went to have a look at the site.
One of the cabins, or 'pods' waits outside the entrance. Photo taken last week when we went to have a look at the site.

Migrants are being housed at Dunchurch Park Hotel - a fact the Advertiser is now willing to publish (for three reasons) after our previous decision to not publish the location of the site.

Months ago we published a piece explaining that we had chosen not to reveal the whereabouts of migrants being housed in the borough because authorities had suggested there had been credible far-right threats.

But three things have caused us to change our mind - the first, and most important, is that Dunchurch Parish Council has placed the location on public record meaning, to put it simply, 'the cat's out of the bag'.

Secondly, there is now an important debate taking place over the planning situation at the hotel, with scores of cabins being shipped to the grounds.

The delivery of these cabins has been evident, scores of people have been in touch with us to tell us about these deliveries, and during a recent visit to Dunchurch we saw two trucks carrying cabins - one parked quite conspicuously outside the hotel's entrance.

It follows that if those involved with the project believed there was still a threat, such conspicuous actions would not be underway.

Thirdly, those staying at the hotel are now out and about in Dunchurch - so again, if those behind the project believed there was still a serious threat, it would follow that those accommodated would be kept on the grounds where they could be protected.

In recent weeks several sources informed the Advertiser of what appeared to be a growing number of deliveries of wooden cabins to the hotel's grounds.

We went to the scene ourselves and saw one such delivery waiting outside the entrance to the hotel.

Sources have also contacted us to express concern over possible damage to a Grade-II listed gate at the site - which, they suggest - had been struck by a lorry and then removed.

And then, on the evening of Sunday, January 23, Dunchurch Parish Council placed on public record that there is not currently planning permission for the cabins, despite 48 units already being installed in the grounds of the hotel.

Here is the parish council's statement: "This week various online meetings have been held between a mixture of groups including the Home Office, RBC, Dunchurch Park Hotel representatives and near neighbours of Dunchurch Park Hotel in order to share as much information as possible, listen to concerns of neighbours and other parties and to clarify various points.

"Regular meetings will now commence between Dunchurch Parish Council, RBC and Dunchurch Park Hotel so we will be able to share as much information as we have with wider residents when we have it and deal with any issues arising.

"There are currently 155 migrants housed at the Dunchurch Park Hotel and a further 76 will be accommodated if planning is approved for 26 of the portable units, also known as pods which you may have heard mentioned over the past few weeks.

"It is the goal of the Home Office to change the mix of migrants at Dunchurch Park Hotel to be more family based than individual, mainly young, men.

"This will of course result in additional pressures on the community in terms of health, welfare, education etc. The Parish Council will be liaising with Local Councillors, RBC and Dunchurch Park Hotel in these matters to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone. There are currently 48 pods on site, and we are told that the deliveries how now ceased.

"Rugby Borough Council Planning Enforcement Team have been informed of the installation of the 48 accommodation units within the grounds of Dunchurch Park Hotel and are currently investigating any potential breaches of planning at the site. No planning applications have been received by Rugby Borough Council, but the legislation will allow such matters to be addressed retrospectively if needed. Each application, when received, will be judged on merit and legal standing.

"The operations director from Dunchurch Park Hotel has actively engaged with the Planning Enforcement Team to try and resolve any potential planning concerns.

"This work is ongoing and Serco and the Home Office have confirmed that they will not use this additional accommodation until there has been consultation with relevant partners including Rugby Borough Council, which will include planning permission.

"At present this is the complete information we have. We are planning to meet in the coming week (24-28th January). We are committed to ensuring that residents get a full and honest appraisal of the situation at the hotel as it develops and we are working in the best interests of our community. We will post further updates as they become available. Updates will be in the form of social media messages, Parish Council website and on our noticeboards situated on the green and in the community managed library (School Street).

"If you wish to contact us about this issue or any new issues directly related to the situation at Dunchurch Park Hotel please contact Dunchurch Parish Council via our dedicated email account of [email protected]

"Any messages sent to our clerk which have been missent to her email address will be directed to this email address. I will be dealing with the emails along with Cllr Howie Marsh.

"If you do not have access to the internet please do not hesitate to call us and leave a message on 01788 817550."