UK university withdraws plans to house 300 migrants in small English town after mass protests from local residents

Hundreds of local residents in the Derbyshire town of Buxton turned out on Monday, Aug. 7, to protest against the plans.
By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

A British university has been forced to withdraw plans to commercially rent out its student accommodation in a small town to asylum seekers after over 1,400 objections to the planning application were submitted by local residents.

The University of Derby had applied to rent out the 274-room High Peak Halls building in the spa town of Buxton to a third party, with the expectation the rooms would then be occupied by migrants new to Britain.

However, mass demonstrations from local residents opposed to the plans saw the application withdrawn just two hours before the local council was due to vote on the matter.

Around 1,400 complaints were filed by those who expressed concern about introducing nearly 300 adult male asylum seekers to the small English town, while just 14 letters of support for the plans were submitted.

Hundreds gathered outside Buxton Methodist Church on Monday ahead of the local council vote to demonstrate, holding banners that read “Buxton says ‘No'” and “House Our Homeless First.”

The town has a population of around 20,000, as per the 2021 census.

One mother, accompanied by her 8-year-old girl, told a local reporter she was against the plans out of a desire to protect her children.

“My concern is that these people coming to this country have different views on how to treat women and children. I don’t want my child to be unsafe or grow up in a neighborhood where she feels that this is acceptable,” she said.

“I don’t want her to go missing. We have been offered child locators. Never in my life have I ever been offered one of those. We’ve also been given panic alarms as well in case anything happens.

“If they’re coming in legally as families, that would be fine. But there are nearly 300 strong men coming in, we don’t have the police force. Our police station shuts at 5 p.m.; our casualty (ER) shuts at 8 p.m. We don’t have the policing, we don’t have the manpower.

“These are 300 men who just have very different ideals than we do,” the local mother added.

“Following a number of technical challenges that I raised about the validity of the enabling application to convert High Peak Halls into a large-scale asylum dispersal center, the University of Derby has withdrawn its application,” local Conservative MP Robert Largan said in a statement.

“This last-minute withdrawal, just hours before the planning committee meeting, is an extraordinary step. There were a number of serious flaws in the planning application process. It’s obvious that the application should never have been validated by High Peak Borough Council in the first place.

“I want to thank all those local people who took the time to submit objections to the application. Over 1,400 local people submitted objections. I know lots of residents have been working hard to help me in fighting these proposals.

“I hope that the University of Derby now abandons its plans, which have always been about money and not what is in the best interests of Buxton,” he added.

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