Offchurch refugee plans stalled by Home Office

Refugees have not yet taken shelter in Offchurch despite plans being rushed through in hope of helping needy families in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 12:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 12:21 pm
Offa House. Picture from the Diocese of Coventry

Plans to transform the church retreat mansion, Offa House into a safe haven for up to 27 refugees was given unanimous support by Warwick District Council in November.

But three months on, a church spokesman said as approval from the Home Office has still not been granted, the project is no further forward.

He said: “The Offa House project is still waiting for approval from the Home Office.

“Coventry City Council is taking the lead on the project, and discussions with them and the Home Office are still ongoing.”

The Diocese of Coventry which owns the Grade II-listed rectory, aims to help some of the thousands of people seeking aid across Europe through the Government’s vulnerable persons relocation scheme.

A planning application was rushed through to help give much-needed help to families fleeing war in Syria by the end of 2015 and received unanimous backing by councillors.

The vacant house which has previously been used as a retreat space for prayer, could be one of the largest buildings offered by the Church of England to help refugees.

Its 27 empty bedrooms and kitchen spaces make it idea for temporary housing requiring only minor alterations.

Around 23 single and double bedrooms would be available for up to 35 refugees at any one time.

They would offer shelter and a safe space to mainly women and children for up to two weeks before they are moved to permanent accommodation around the UK.

Plans were first put forward last year and are still being agreed by Warwickshire and Coventry councils and the church. Changes would be funded largely through government grants.