High Court Bans Use of Town’s Seafront Hotels as Hostels for Asylum Seekers


The Home Office has a duty to house the tens of thousands of destitute migrants making their way across the Channel in small boats. However, in a head-turning decision, the High Court has banned the use of seafront hotels in a deprived town that depends heavily on tourism as hostels for asylum seekers.

The Court acknowledged the challenge faced by the Home Office and its contractors in coping with the enormous influx of asylum seekers. With immigration centres at, and beyond, bursting point, thousands of rooms in over 100 hotels nationwide had been block booked as interim accommodation for recent arrivals.

However, after getting wind of plans to move asylum seekers into one of its seafront hotels, the town’s local authority successfully applied for an emergency injunction. It contended that the anticipated change of use of the hotel to that of a hostel would amount to a breach of planning control.

In extending the injunction pending a full trial of the council’s claim, the Court noted a local planning policy which promotes and protects tourist uses on the seafront. The town is one of the UK’s most deprived districts and tourism is of central importance to its economy, providing about 37 per cent of local jobs. Asylum seekers receive only a small amount of government financial assistance and, unlike tourists, could make no significant contribution to the local economy.

Given the strength of the council’s arguments in terms of planning harm, factors in favour of continuing the injunction plainly outweighed those in favour of discharging it. The injunction forbade use of the specific hotel, and numerous others within the area covered by the tourism protection policy, as hostel accommodation.

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