MP Robert Halfon confirms plans to house 397 asylum-seekers in Harlow town centre have been dropped

News / Thu 23rd Mar 2023 at 02:41pm

HARLOW MP Robert Halfon has told YH that plans to house 397 asylum-seekers in Harlow town centre have been dropped

Commenting on the news that the previously proposed plans for 397 asylum seekers to be housed in Wych Elm have been abandoned by the Home Office, MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon said:

“As local residents will know from reports in Your Harlow and on social media in recent weeks, there were proposals from the Home Office to relocate and house 397 asylum seekers in the brand-new luxury development in Wych Elm, Harlow.

“As soon as I received notice of this proposal, I immediately wrote to the Immigration Minister, alongside local Council Leaders and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Executive of Harlow Council to object in the strongest possible terms. The proposal was entirely inappropriate and I pledged to do everything possible to ensure this did not go ahead.

“Following confirmation from the Home Office today, I am pleased to announce that these plans have been abandoned.

“Harlow is a very compassionate town, and in recent years has welcomed refugees in need who were fleeing conflict and persecution in countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Hong Kong. Indeed, almost 50 Ukrainian families are currently living in Harlow after the outbreak of Putin’s illegal war.

“I know that Harlow will continue to welcome those in need, but this must be measured against the needs of local residents. With five thousand people currently on the Housing Needs Register, Harlow homes must be prioritised for Harlow people. As such, I am pleased that the Home Office has listened to my concerns, and those of local residents and agreed to scrap the proposal.

“This news follows the Prime Minister and Home Secretary’s plans to stop illegal migration and end the practice of small boats making dangerous crossings across the channel. Our immigration system must be fair but I do believe it is right that the Government takes action to break this harmful cycle of human trafficking, stop illegal migration to our shores, and at the same time, ensure provision and support is available to those refugees and unaccompanied children in need. I was disappointed to see that Labour again refused to understand the people’s priorities and voted against the Illegal Migration Bill which would tackle this problem.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Home Office and Harlow Council officials, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, the Leader of Harlow Council, Russell Perrin, and Leader and Deputy Leader of Essex County Council, alongside local residents for their support on this matter.”

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20 Comments for MP Robert Halfon confirms plans to house 397 asylum-seekers in Harlow town centre have been dropped:

Kelly Mewings
2023-03-23 14:51:42

Great news. As a woman I don’t fancy feeling even more threatened walking around the town, as I already do. This week there was a group of fourteen foreign men that looked like they were from rubber boats . Young blokes in gangs. Fourteen of them outside the civic centre. I was on my own and had to get past them . Horrible experience. Can’t walk around Harlow in the middle of the afternoon, as a lone woman anymore without feeling threatened. Don’t need more of them! Thank you Robert!

Councillor James Leppard
2023-03-23 14:57:30

This is excellent news for Harlow. Our MP and Council have responded swiftly and decisively to the needs and legitimate concerns of Harlow residents. This ill-conceived proposal would have been grossly unfair to people awaiting housing and at variance to the new Illegal Migration Bill, currently before Parliament. Well done to our MP and the Leader of Harlow Council.

Nicholas Taylor
2023-03-23 15:20:08

This ill conceived proposal from the Home Office of a Conservative Government just shows how out of touch with the general public this government has become. What both James and our MP fail to mention of course is that none of the thousands of people on Harlow Council's waiting list will be able to afford to buy or indeed rent any of these luxury flats. The lack of affordable housing in this town, despite what some commentators on these pages will tell you, is where the housing crisis lies, not with those who can afford to buy. Nicholas Taylor, Leader of the Harlow Alliance Part

Gary Roberts
2023-03-23 15:20:25

Does anyone know if these homes will go to people currently on the housing needs register? I suspect not which makes this ridiculous performance from Mr Halfon worthless for the people of this town. Must be election time!

Tony Durcan
2023-03-23 17:55:20

Anyone with any sense knew this idea from the Tory Government and was frankly stupid. Therefore am not sure why the Tory MP and Tory leader of the council appear to be congratulating themselves,when it was the Tory government decision in the first place. Did they create bad news and then claim they sorted out.Bring on April 1st.

Ray Thackeray
2023-03-23 17:55:51

They probably prefer Rwanda to Harlow.

Gary Roberts
2023-03-23 17:59:10

Do you think this "achievement" will appear on a Conservative election leaflet come May? Lol. But will you buy it?

Mark Ingall
2023-03-23 19:06:53

Is it really an achievement for Conservatives to block a Conservative plan? If I planned to paint my head purple, but then persuaded myself not to paint my head purple, would people congratulate me for preventing my head being painted purple?

David Forman
2023-03-23 19:13:35

Our Tory council did not fight at all for the full 30% affordable housing at the Wych Elm House development. Here is the detail: Based on Harlow Council’s policies and guidance...the following planning obligations would be required for this proposal if viable:  30% of the scheme as affordable housing (37 units)  £183,372 contribution towards local primary school provision.  £185,712 contribution towards local secondary school provision  £39,093.68 contribution towards libraries within Essex.  £138,135 contribution towards open spaces. This is what our Tory council accepted: 15 affordable units (all shared ownership) (12% of the scheme). £137,529 contribution towards primary school education.  £39,093.68 contribution towards libraries within Essex. So the developer got a hefty discount of £369,690 off the original required contribution of £546,312.68 and 22 less affordable housing units. Even the 15 affordable units were to buy on a shared ownership basis. Not much use to Harlow people. See pages 13 & 14 of planning document: https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/s14638/Wych%2520Elm%2520House%2520Report.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjdtuOK1_L9AhXGRMAKHfzFDW4QFnoECA8QAQ&usg=AOvVaw0mG9oFRvo4L6NwSBRkQK2X

David Forman
2023-03-23 22:22:39

Developers can avoid affordable housing obligations because of 'viability assessments' introduced by the Tory led Coalition in the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework. Numerous objections to 'viability' were made to the Communities & Local Government Committee. The Campaign to Protect Rural England expressed concern that "the language in the draft Framework on viability would lead to developers arguing that they should not be required to deliver as much affordable housing in the future, because it is not viable for them to do so." The C&LG Committee stated: "We recommend that the NPPF make it clear that calculations of viability presuppose requirements to provide infrastructure and other measures necessary to the development, not simply returns deemed acceptable by the developer." The maximum return (profit) on a development that the Tories thought acceptable was 20%. See pages 37 & 38 of: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmcomloc/1526/1526.pdf

David Morris
2023-03-24 00:26:47

Classic non-news and as if it’s a favour he’s done for us. The new hospital will not be built. I think the Tory party are on their way. I hope Harlow has the courage to vote them out.

Claire McCartney
2023-03-24 00:57:03

After writing this , I was told to get out of Harlow by a Muslim woman on here, because she called me a racist for saying I’m not comfortable with all these droves of men coming over to seek asylum. I grew up in Harlow and I partied with yardies in Dalston and most my mates were all different kinds of races . It’s nothing to do with race. It’s the fact I don’t like loads of blokes coming over and going around the town in gangs making women feel uncomfortable. It’s nothing about race! Stop making it about race! By doing this you are avoiding the real issue. Also: how come asylum seekers can come here and get houses and don’t have to work? When now, the disabled are being forced to work due to the reform. It’s disgusting what the tories are doing to the disabled now, yet you can come here and not work . This might be a great thing the tories have done, by stopping more of these men hanging about Harlow town in gangs, but the tories are still doing some terrible things to people . People who possibly paid into the system and got unwell and became disabled. It’s disgusting what Jeremy hunt has decided to do!

Clare Mccartney
2023-03-24 14:13:47

Hello everybody. I didn’t write that statement above. Also: if I did, I would have spelt my name correctly! Stop adding my name to fake accounts! Debate not hate! Clare Mccartney

Peter Henegan
2023-03-24 14:15:31

David Morris, you say Harlow should have the courage to vote the tories out but Labour haven't even selected a candidate. The local Labour party don't have the balls to say why.

Dan Long
2023-03-24 17:34:57

Too right as well. We have got enough people on the waiting list in Harlow who should be given first priority when it comes to housing, especially our former service personnel.

Maureen Martin
2023-03-24 19:25:55

Why has the other tower building near Wych Elm been designated to be razed to the ground, and the people living there even told to leave. Ales no sense at this to,e of housing shortage

Alan Price
2023-03-25 07:58:00

Election time me doth suspect! I await the next “ big disclosure “ and James L’s never ending sycophantic drivel. Is he lobbying for leadership of council?

Michael Beere
2023-03-25 09:12:55

Does anyone really believe that Robert Halfon was unaware or not consulted about this plan to house migrants/asylum seekers in Wych Elm flats? He must have agreed to it in the first place then flip flopped once the protests started. Also, how many local people on the housing list are being proposed to be temporarily housed in said flats (not so sure these flats are luxury apartments in the first place)?

Kim Oconnor
2023-03-25 09:31:58

See through it people. There's an Election coming up.

susan pidgeon
2023-03-25 15:25:09

i think its discusting why should they get a lovely new home when harlow people are crying out for homes, they need to stop them from coming in, we cant afford our bills or food why should they get it all.

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