Home Office officials are considering taking over a 11-storey block to convert it into a home for asylum seekers.just off Chatham High Street. The building, known as ‘Anchorage House’ was the subject of proposals to convert it into 81 residential studio, one and two-bedroom flats just last year.
The former Medway County and Family Court enjoys views over the River Medway. As well as being the former home of two courts, the building was also home to HM Revenue and Customs, reportedly earning it the local nickname “Chatham Tax Office.”
The large building has dominated the local waterside and nearby older high street buildings since the 1960s and in 2006 Medway Council were understood to have said it’s demolition would be “desirable”.
Now the office blocks most recent transformation may see it house some of the 37,000 asylum seekers being accommodated in hotels at the taxpayers expense.
The cost of accommodating Afghans in bridging hotels is £1.2m a day
Kelly Tolhurst, Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood, said Anchorage House was a “totally inappropriate location” for housing for asylum seekers.
She said ‘The Home Office has confirmed that Anchorage House has been put forward by their contractors Clearsprings as a potential site to utilise for housing asylum seekers. I have made it clear to Home Office officials and the Immigration Minister that I object to this site being used for that purpose, the site is not suitable and it is a totally inappropriate location.’
In contrast, a Home Office spokesperson said ‘The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under incredible strain. The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable – there are currently more than 37,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £5.6 million a day.’
The spokesperson went on to say ‘The use of hotels is a temporary solution and we are working hard with local authorities to find appropriate accommodation. We engage with local authorities as early as possible whenever sites are used for asylum accommodation and work to ensure arrangements are safe for hotel residents and local people.’