Written Evidence (with Asylum Matters and Medical Justice) on the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill allows the ‘appropriate authority’ to apply to the Secretary of State for planning permission instead of the Local Planning Authority where a development is on Crown Land, is in England and is considered to be of national importance and urgent, or of national importance and not urgent.
We are concerned that the purpose of this change is to allow the government to bypass controls that currently exist, when developing a new system of large-scale permanent asylum ‘accommodation centres’ in the UK. The Bill would remove the obligation to consult the public in communities in England about facilities like this. It constitutes a mechanism for the avoidance of public scrutiny, would result in serious adverse impacts for local communities and people seeking asylum and should not stand part of the Bill.
It is vital that the obligation remains to consult local communities on substantive developments relating to asylum accommodation. We consider that the Home Office has consistently sought to avoid scrutiny of its proposals for large scale institutional facilities on Crown Land, and that the government is aiming to bypass what controls there currently are, in the institution of a new system of permanent asylum ‘accommodation centres’ in the UK.
When the Bill was debated by the Committee on 19th July, Matthew Pennycook MP raised these concerns, highlighting that the use of institutional accommodation to date has "been subject to controversy and, in the case of Penally and Napier, legal challenge - not least because of the last of consultation with local communities in the areas where they have been, or were proposed to be, situated". Tim Farron MP highlighted that the clause is "too much of a bank cheque for the Government".
Our joint briefing for the House of Commons Committee stage (with Asylum Matters and Medical Justice) can be read here.
Click on the arrow below to read our latest briefing for the House of Lords Committee stage.