Refugees may be in Offchurch for Christmas

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Refugees could have emergency housing in Offchurch by Christmas if planners support recommendations to turn unused space into accommodation next week.

Warwick District Council’s planning department is urged to approve an application to turn Offa House into a safe haven for up to 27 Syrian refugees for five years.

Proposals would introduce a not insignificant number of short term residents into what is a relatively small village.

Planning officers

Put forward by the Diocese of Coventry which owns the Grade II-listed Georgian rectory, the plan aims to help just some of the thousands of people seeking shelter across Europe as part of the government’s vulnerable persons relocation scheme.

If approved, people would be selected from refugee camps and housed in the village for up to two weeks while they are registered and moved to more permanent accommodation across the UK.

Addressing residents’ concerns, a planning report states: “Proposals would introduce a not insignificant number of short term residents into what is a relatively small village.

“This would undoubtedly have some impact on the character of the village. However, it is important to remember that this would be a temporary impact.

“There is an urgent need for the accommodation to be available to receive refugees prior to Christmas.”

No alterations are required to the building which has previously been run as the diocesan’s retreat and conference centre - a use which it will return to at the end of the five years.

The house closed in 2013 and has since only been partially opened for prayer.

Funding for change would come from central government, and a diocesan spokesperson said the house would be used to help those identified as being in danger and in need of support.

Members of Warwickshire County Council and Warwick District Council have agreed to support the aid efforts for refugees fleeing Syria.

Councillors will meet at 6pm on Tuesday in Leamington Town Hall.