300 asylum seekers to be housed in newbuild luxury flats
Hundreds of asylum seekers are set to move into a luxury block of flats in a posh riverside town under controversial plans by the Home Office.
As many as 300 could be homed in exclusive Syward Place in Chertsey, Surrey, where a one-bedroom flat costs almost £300,000.
The quiet town, on the River Thames and nestled formerly in London’s Stockbroker Belt, has a population of just 15000 and residents fear the arrival of so many immigrants in one place will fuel tension and prove a drain on already creaking local services.
The Home Office has earmarked Syward Place – which is still under construction and due for completion in January – as a possible site for ‘dispersal accommodation.’
It means that the development, a former office block in Chertsey town centre and next to the railway station, would be where asylum seekers are housed - at cost to the UK taxpayer - while they await their claims to be processed, which in some cases can take years.
Musician Jenny Brown, 55, who lives close to the block, believes it’s unfair and said: ‘When you have so many youngsters struggling to get on the housing ladder, is it right to give people who have only just arrived in this country such an exclusive property?
‘This development is way out of the price bracket for most people aged in their twenties, many of whom are having difficulties actually getting a mortgage.
‘Then you have people who have contributed towards society all their life falling on hard times and they often become overlooked and given absolutely no support.
‘It seems that the benefits system is heavily skewered towards those who haven’t contributed at all and I think this development and its potential use as accommodation for asylum seekers is a symbol of that
‘The flats are mainly one bedroom and so I think will probably end up in the main being given to single men.
‘I think that throws up additional concerns on whether they would integrate with the local population or remain very separate.'
A one-bedroom home in Syward Place currently costs £290,000 while a two-room flat on the second floor would set prospective owners a hefty £450,000. In total there are 127 flats.
Steve Pearman said: ‘I know that asylum seekers have to be homed somewhere and they have to have somewhere comfortable but how many military veterans do we have who are homeless? How many young people can afford to live in a block like this?
‘It seems to me that we are ignoring people who have worked hard – in some cases actually fought for the country – in favour of people who have come into Britain very recently and of which we know very little about.’
The Home Office say the number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and so has put the asylum system under incredible strain.