Church scraps plan for Offchurch ‘safe house’

Offa House. Picture from the Diocese of Coventry
Offa House. Picture from the Diocese of Coventry

Offchurch will no longer be home to refugees or asylum seekers after latest plans by the church were scrapped.

Offa House, an unused Church of England retreat, was proposed as safe housing for women and children seeking refuge in the UK this year.

The plans came following an earlier move by the Diocese of Coventry to use the empty space as temporary housing for Syrian refugees - but both have failed to progress.

The future of the space now remains undecided but the diocese said it was clear it could not be used for one of the “great humanitarian crises of our time”.

The Diocesan Bishop’s Council, which has responsibility for the unused house, said after talks with contractor G4S and the Home Office, it was considered it would “not be right” to pursue changes.

A statement from the council said: “Despite our shared desire to make it work, we have judged that it is not possible to overcome a number of practicalities.

“Therefore, it is with reluctance, and certainly not for want of trying, that we have come to the conclusion that Offa House does not make for the right kind of provision for these purposes.

“I know that there was a desire from many people in the village to find – if possible – a way of using Offa House that would help meet one of the great humanitarian crises of our time.

“Sadly, it has not proved possible to find a feasible way.

“I will seek to ensure that the parish council is informed about future plans as they become clearer.”

The diocese has thanked villagers for the “helpful and frank way” they have responded to the proposals.

The bid was supported by Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre and plans were discussed in the village in May before being formally scrapped in the following weeks.

Options for the future of the space include for it to reopen as a retreat house, merge with another Christian charity, or be sold. They will be determined over the summer.