Britannia Ashley Hotel, Ashley Road, Hale

Enforcement Investigation into alleged material change of use from a hotel (Use Class C1) to a hostel (sui generis) at Britannia Ashley Hotel, Ashley Road, Hale.

In response to a significant number of complaints about an alleged proposed material change of use of the Britannia Ashley Hotel from a hotel to a hostel in order to provide Interim Accommodation for asylum seekers, and at the request of the Leader, the Council has carried out a planning enforcement investigation. The planning enforcement investigation can only consider the control of the use of the hotel through planning law. The decision to house asylum seekers at the Britannia Ashley Hotel has been made by the Home Office and not the Council. 

The outcome of this investigation is that the Council does not propose to take any planning enforcement action before the use commences or any action immediately on commencement of the use. This is because, having regard to recent case law, there is currently insufficient evidence that a material change of use would take place. Additionally, even if it were found that the change of use was material, it is not anticipated that significant planning related harm would arise. It would therefore be unlikely to be expedient to take enforcement action.

However, along with other Council services, planning enforcement will be carrying out an inspection of the premises to understand exactly how it operates, once the use has commenced. This may lead the Council to alter its conclusions on whether the change of use is material, and if so, it would work with Serco and the Home Office to minimise any planning harm. Planning enforcement action would be a last resort. 

This course of action is in accordance with the Council’s Corporate Enforcement Policy and government guidance on enforcing planning control. The report (with appendices) linked below sets out the reasons for the Council’s decision in greater detail. 

The outcome of the planning enforcement investigation does not alter the Council’s objection to the principle of using hotels to accommodate asylum seekers. They are not a suitable type of accommodation to house and support asylum seekers in the right way and the Leader has already written to the Home Secretary to raise the Council’s concerns. The Council will continue to make representations to the Home Office and Serco in this regard, whilst supporting the asylum seekers with their immediate needs.