ABOVE: Seen here in 2015, Home Office plans would see the site at Wethersfield Airfield accommodate up to 1700 asylum seekers

The High Court have announced they will not be granting Braintree District Council an injunction “to challenge the Home Office’s proposals for asylum seekers at Wethersfield Airfield”.

Plans from the Home Office and Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, published on 29 March, would see “surplus military sites at Scampton and Wethersfield” earmarked to accommodate asylum seekers “who enter the UK illegally on small boats”. These two sites (alongside a third non-military site in Bexhill) would provide “basic and functional accommodation”: Scampton and Wethersfield each due to accommodate around 200 single male individuals initially, with capacity projected to rise to 2000 and 1700 respectively.

However, Braintree District council – “[sharing] the same view as many in our community that Wethersfield Airfield is not a suitable site for asylum use” – submitted an injunction application to the High Court to challenge these proposals, which was heard by the High Court on 19 April. This questioned the Home Office’s “reliance on the use of permitted development rights (Class Q) as a way of getting around the need for planning permission”.

A statement on Friday 28 April 2023, issued by the council, announced that this would not be granted; determining that the “Home Office is permitted to rely upon the provisions set out within class Q”.

The council are now preparing to appeal this High Court decision, noting their intention to prepare and lodge appeal papers within the coming weeks. “We remain of the view that Wethersfield Airfield is an unsuitable site, given the lack of capacity in local services, its isolated location, the size of the site, and the fact that the scale of the development proposed could have significant impact upon the local community”, explain Braintree District Council.

A factsheet from the Home Office states that due to a sharp increase in migrant crossings, the 45,000 asylum seekers currently living in hotels cost the UK taxpayer more than £6 million a day. Accommodation and facilities at the projected Wethersfield site will be “designed to ensure the essential needs of those accommodated there are met”, and the facility will be “operated under the supervision of the Home Office by an existing asylum accommodation provider”.