Plans to accommodate 200 asylum seekers in West Sussex village are withdrawn

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A planning application to change the use of Earnley Concourse as a hostel for around 200 asylum seekers has been withdrawn.

Stone Harbour Ltd, which owns the Concourse, has withdrawn the planning application for a change of use at the site after ‘much thought’ given to feedback received from locals.

A spokesman for Earnley Parish Council said on Monday evening a meeting - not open to the public - was held at the Earnley Concourse to discuss the plans for an ‘Asylum Seekers Hostel’. 

The meeting was called by agents acting for the owners of the Concourse, Stone Harbour Ltd, in conjunction with the company appointed by the Home Office to manage asylum seeker facilities, Clearsprings Ready Homes.  

A spokesman added: “Those invited to attend included two members of Earnley Parish Council, other parish councillors across the Manhood Peninsula, a county councillor for the area, the Chief Executive of Chichester District Council and representatives of the police and the local church.

“There was also present a local lady who recounted her experiences of helping asylum seekers on the Greek island of Samos.

“The representatives of Stone Harbour and Clearsprings Ready Homes listened to the concerns expressed by Earnley Parish Councillors and other representatives of the residents of the Manhood Peninsula. 

“The following day it was announced by Stone Harbour that they had decided to withdraw their planning application for a change of use at the Earnley Concourse, without which the plans to use the Earnley Concourse as an Asylum Seekers Hostel could not go ahead. 

“Stone Harbour made clear that this was in response to feedback they had received at the previous evening’s meeting.”

Keith Martin, the chairman of Earnley Parish Council, said on hearing the news: “I welcome the change of heart. 

“It was the opinion of Earnley Parish Council and the great majority of our residents that the small rural parish of Earnley was always an inappropriate location for a hostel for asylum seekers.

“We look forward to working with Stone Harbour to help find a use for the building that meets their needs and the aspirations and amenity of the local residents”.

On its website, Stone Harbour said this week: “After last evening’s meeting with all parishes and other stakeholders on the Manhood Peninsula much thought has been given to the feedback received.

“The directors of Stone Harbour Ltd, having taken note of the feedback, will be withdrawing the application to change the use of Earnley Concourse from a residential institution to a hostel.

“The company will shortly publish a more detailed note with their views on the future of the Concourse.”