Plan to change student accommodation into asylum seeker hostel in Sheffield
Plans to change student accommodation into a hostel for asylum seekers to cope with demand were recently submitted to Sheffield Council.
Mears Ltd and Hencap Housing Properties jointly proposed to change the use of student accommodation at Regency House, 75-77 St Mary’s Road, to an overflow 'initial' accommodation hostel for those seeking asylum.
Initial accommodation is usually occupied by asylum seekers for a four to six week period while their support claim is assessed by the Home Office.
Up to the 2019 academic year, the building provided self-catering accommodation for up to 75 students but is now vacant.
If approved by Sheffield Council, the number of bedrooms would reduce by two and the mix of rooms would change.
It would accommodate a maximum of 105 people but Gerald Eve - on behalf of the applicants - said it is unlikely the building will operate at full capacity year-round.
They said Mears was given a 10-year asylum accommodation and support contract by the Home Office that requires them to provide a range of services to asylum seekers across the North East, Yorkshire and Humber.
The main place for initial accommodation is Urban House in Wakefield but since the start of the contract demand has "consistently exceeded capacity," Gerald Eve said.
In a statement with the plans, they added: "It has become evident that there is a need for an overflow IA within the NEYH region, in order to enhance the safety, security and wellbeing for asylum seekers unable to secure accommodation within Urban House.
"As such, during periods where demand exceeds capacity at Urban House, those asylum seekers deemed as more independent or requiring less welfare support (following a comprehensive review and assessment at Urban House) will be transferred to the proposed overflow IA at the site for the remainder of their stay.
"The proposed use of the site would be similar in planning terms to the established use, with it providing short-term accommodation for a transient population."
It would also be fully staffed with a manager, resident welfare workers, security staff, housekeeping staff and maintenance operatives. It would be staffed 24/7 and open every day of the year.