University of Derby to resubmit asylum housing proposals for Buxton

Plans to house hundreds of asylum seekers in empty university accommodation will be re-submitted “as soon as possible”, the Buxton Advertiser has been told.
High Peak Halls, in Buxton, where hundreds of asylum seekers could be housedHigh Peak Halls, in Buxton, where hundreds of asylum seekers could be housed
High Peak Halls, in Buxton, where hundreds of asylum seekers could be housed

The University of Derby had submitted proposals back in May to change the use of their empty High Peak Halls, in Buxton, to accommodate ‘non-students’: this is widely understood to refer to asylum seekers.

Plans were due to be decided on by High Peak Borough Council this afternoon (Monday, August 7) before they were unexpectedly shelved by the university at around 11.30am.

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Now the university has said they remain committed to the plans but were advised more details would be required.

They confirmed to this paper that they would submit a new application “as soon as possible” - despite a raft of local opposition.

High Peak MP Robert Largan said he had hoped that the university would “go back to the drawing board” and engage with the local authority to find a “positive solution”.

Whilst Jon Pearce, Labour Party candidate for the constituency, called the Home Secretary to put an end to the plans.

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He said: “The plans need to be stopped by the Home Secretary before a full application is submitted. She has the power to squash the proposals and to pretend she doesn't is all smoke and mirrors from the Home Office.

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“This is not a safe and secure place to house vulnerable people in the wake of very serious organised crime.

“The university has done the right thing in withdrawing the application. This should be the end of the matter.”

As reported, Mr Largan told the Advertiser: “It was never the right thing to do - the location is wholly unsuitable - and I hope now that the university will take stock, go back to the drawing board, and engage in finding a more positive solution.

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"It might cost them a little bit more money, it will certainly involve the council stepping up, and don’t simply try to submit another application down the line when they think people aren’t looking.”

He has called on the empty properties to be turned into affordable housing but Mr Pearce said, if that were to be the case, then the Government would need to come up with a costed plan.

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Mr Pearce said: “There is a real shortage of social housing in the local area and it would be amazing (if that were to happen) but Robert Largan needs to be telling his Government to take social housing seriously for that to become a reality.”

As reported, the university had, in their application to the council in May, proposed to let the 274 rooms on a commercial basis.

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A University of Derby spokesperson said: “The University of Derby has withdrawn its application for a Certificate of Lawful Purpose to allow the halls to be used to accommodate non-students, having been advised that the application would require additional information.

“While this is extremely disappointing, we still intend to repurpose this building to accommodate non-students. We will revise and resubmit an application as soon as possible.”