A PLAN to turn a disused Glasgow care home into a centre providing temporary accommodation with capacity for around 180 asylum seekers has been rejected by Glasgow City Council.
The proposal involved the former 88-bed Torbrae facility in Bogany Terrace, Castlemilk. Asylum seekers would have stayed there for several weeks while their applications were considered and processed
The facility was to be run by Home Office contractor Mears Group who said their vision was for it to be a welcome centre.
Around 640 objections were received from members of the public, politicians and community organisations. Concerns raised included disruption to the residents of Castlemilk, overcrowding and lack of amenities in area to cope.
The facility, which would have been staffed around the clock, was to have had 87 en-suite bedrooms with a total of 183 bed spaces, amenity areas, a children’s play area, dining area, kitchen, library and clothes bank and space for health checks and offices.
Glasgow’s planning department refused the application, saying it would be to the “detriment of the residential amenity” because it was likely to lead to traffic and noise disturbance and “unacceptable intensification of activity”.
A document submitted by an agent for the applicant stated: “It is quite apparent that the settled community are resistant to the provision of asylum seeker accommodation anywhere within the city.”
It continued by saying that Torbrae, when operational, would have allowed the asylum seekers’ journey to be a “smooth and positive experience, transitioning from initial assessment through to permanent re-housing.”
Refusal meant that, in the short-term, the “scattergun approach” of allocating flats and houses throughout the city to asylum seekers will continue. The search for a suitable building will carry on.”
The statement adds: “Provision of initial accommodation (IA) throughout the city is highly inefficient. Service providers supporting asylum seekers need to visit and assess all of the individuals seeking asylum.
“The provision of a managed accommodation block enables all of those who support asylum seekers to effectively manage the process and ensure well-being and proper processing of those within the IA facility, down to a welcome on arrival and having a meal or hot drink provided by a dedicated team when they arrive.
“The underlying unmet need will continue to exist. Whilst the UK continues to attract and accept asylum seekers, the need for a good quality IA providing for the needs of asylum seekers undergoing initial assessment will remain.
“This application provides an excellent opportunity for the city to meet its obligations within a building that could not have been better designed for this purpose.”
Mears Group had told the council: “Our aspiration is to use the facility to promote a positive service user experience that is fully in line with the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy’s vision of a welcoming Scotland where refugees and asylum seekers are able to rebuild their lives from the moment they arrive.”
A document submitted to the council at the time of the application stated: “The number of temporary residents accommodated at any one time would be at a higher intensity than the 88-bed maximum occupancy of the dementia care home, owing to the diminished need for — for instance — en-suite bathrooms, accessible bedroom layouts and storage for personal possessions.”