Leeds asylum seeker hostel bid EXCLUSIVE

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Border agency chiefs are proposing to open a hostel for asylum seekers at a former university halls of residence in Leeds, the YEP can reveal.

The UK Border Agency is lining up a proposal to turn parts of Tetley Hall, in Far Headingley, into a hostel providing accommodation for asylum seekers.

Leeds City Council said it was “aware” of the Border Agency’s plans for the site on Moor Road, which closed as University of Leeds halls of residence in 2005.

Since then, two buildings on the site have been used as a homeless shelter – and it is thought these are the buildings that the Border Agency are targeting and may want to convert.

Tetley Hall’s owner Pickard Properties has submitted a plan for family housing for the rest of the site, which will go before a council plans panel next week.

A source told the YEP that the hostel would provide 250 asylum seekers with ‘initial accommodation’ – a temporary home for people applying for asylum.

However, Coun Ben Chastney (Lib Dem, Weetwood) told the YEP that the two buildings thought to be part of the scheme, Moor Grange and Moorfield Lodge, would only house 50 to 60 people.

He said: “Previous schemes for Tetley Hall have been rejected because of their size, so it would be naive to think that a proposal to house 250 asylum seekers in those buildings would be successful.

“It may be that there is something else in mind or that if the scheme coming up next week is rejected, this takes its place..”

Pickard Properties bought the six-acre Tetley Hall site – which consists of six Victorian houses and purpose-built blocks – from the University of Leeds in 2007. The campus had been home to 220 students.

In February 2010, Pickard submitted plans for student flats or a housing scheme on the land, which were rejected by Leeds City Council because they were deemed “over-intensive”.

Last April, Pickard returned to the council with a revised plan ahead of the new application to go before the council next week.

A UK Border Agency spokesman told the YEP: “It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage as proposals are still under discussion.”

A council spokeswoman told the YEP that the authority was “aware” of the plans but had not been “formally consulted”.