RAF Scampton: Deal struck on asylum centre plans for former airbase

Protest banner outside main gate
Campaigners have staged protests over the plans and historians have objected due to the site's wartime links [Reuters]

An agreement has been reached between a council and the Home Office over the temporary, dual use of the former RAF Scampton site.

A deal was announced last March to turn the Lincolnshire site into a business, aerospace and heritage centre.

But weeks later, the Home Office announced plans to use the site as an asylum centre.

West Lindsey District Council (WLDC) said the agreement would allow it to pursue the regeneration of the site.

The plan to convert the former home of the Red Arrows and the wartime Dambusters squadron into an asylum camp has been met with strong opposition from local residents, as well as from WLDC.

Campaigners have staged a number of protests over the plans and historians have objected due to the site's wartime links.

There were also fears the move would jeopardise a £300m plan to transform the site.

Aerial view of site
Under the plans, asylum seekers would be housed in former RAF buildings and portable cabins [BBC]

On Tuesday, WLDC said the "agreement in principle" marked "a significant step forward" in securing the site's future.

Under the agreement, outstanding legal action would be withdrawn, it said.

Council leader Trevor Young said: "The council has always been clear that whilst it is our view that the site is unsuitable for large-scale asylum accommodation, protecting the investment and regeneration plans for the site is a priority.

"This agreement provides the principles by which we can collaborate to unlock our investment and regeneration plan by working with the Home Office through a shared use proposal."

He said it would offer "greater certainty" for the long-term future of the site.

In March, the Home Office announced it was reducing the number of people to be housed at the site from 2,000 to 800.

Sally Grindrod-Smith, director of planning, regeneration and communities at WLDC, said the agreement marked "a turning point" in attempts to protect the regeneration plan.

"This includes a significant reduction in operating capacity of the asylum accommodation centre, [and] a vastly reduced Home Office footprint," she said.

The Home Office announced in April that it was working towards a joint agreement on the use of the site for asylum seekers and the community.

It has previously said using such surplus military sites was "more affordable for taxpayers".

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