Braintree District Council disappointed in judicial review decision over RAF Wethersfield asylum accommodation

Statement from Braintree District Council on Judicial Review decision.

Braintree District Council have shared their disappointment after the High Court’s decision that the Home Office acted lawfully in its decision to use RAF Wethersfield for accommodation of up to 1,700 asylum seekers.

The Judicial Review took place over a two-day hearing on 31 October and 1 November which Braintree District Council pursued to challenge the Home Office in their decision to use the RAF Wethersfield site. This had been given permission to proceed in July by Mrs Justice Thornton, to challenge the Home Office’s reliance on the use of permitted development rights (known as Class Q) and the environmental impact assessment screening direction, as well as their compliance with equality regulations.

Mrs Justice Thornton considered arguments from both Braintree District Council and the Home Office, alongside another legal challenge by a resident from Wethersfield and West Lindsey District Council for the RAF Scampton site.

Braintree District Council has requested permission from the High Court to appeal the decision and awaits to hear more if this is granted or not.

Cllr Graham Butland, Leader of Braintree District Council, said: “We have worked since March to make a strong case to the court that the Home Office acted unlawfully when making the decision to use RAF Wethersfield to house asylum seekers. We are of course disappointed with this outcome after months of work to present our case and evidence as we still believe it isn’t an appropriate site for a development of this scale given its remote location and the lack of capacity in local services. It was important for us to challenge this decision but we have to respect the judgement of the court and I am grateful for the support of residents, MP’s, businesses and communities throughout the process. Whilst we have initially appealed the decision, we will take some time to reflect on the decision and consider the council’s position. Meanwhile we will continue with our duty of care to support asylum seekers on site and helping to minimise impact on our local communities whilst the site is being utilised for this purpose.”

Published: 6th December 2023