High Court ruling protects key Great Yarmouth seafront hotels from hostel use
Great Yarmouth Borough Council's legal action relating to the use of hotels to house asylum seekers has successfully concluded with a ruling that protects the town's economically vital seafront area hotels from being used as hostels.
In the High Court in London last week, Justice Holgate issued a Final Injunction Order which prevents Serco, Amayo Properties Ltd and H & H North Ltd from seeking to use any hotels to house asylum seekers within an area - known as GY6 - designated in the borough's Local Plan as containing key tourist accommodation.
The council took action after learning of the intention to use hotels in the town to accommodate asylum seekers. It argued that any use as a hostel would be an unauthorised change and would require planning permission.
The council used its full suite of planning enforcement tools to ensure the issue did not occur, but ultimately turned to the courts to ask for a planning injunction.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council's Local Plan contains a strategy for protecting and enhancing an area formally designated as 'the seafront' in the town. There has been, and continues to be, a long-term strategy to protect and enhance tourism and the facilities for tourism in that location.
Justice Holgate recognised this when he acknowledged: "GY6 is a highly specific, protective policy directed to a large and highly important sector of the borough's economy."
The council has a long history of protecting the area and brought the judge's attention to an Enforcement Notice it had served for a similar breach 17 years earlier.
A spokesperson for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: "Our town has a long and proud history of welcoming and supporting people from all over the world. We continue to help support asylum seekers placed in the town who have no control over where they are accommodated.
"However, we have a responsibility to enforce planning laws and make sure local residents and businesses all play by the same rules and are protected from unauthorised and inappropriate use of local properties.
''Tourism, and the economic benefits it affords the town, are crucial and it was essential we took this action to protect the sector and those it supports.
''The council argued its case on planning grounds and this verdict demonstrates the importance of having an up-to date-plan and a very clear planning policy to support our actions.''
At last week's court hearing, the judge ordered the three defendants pay costs of between £12,000 and £14,000 each.