A legal injunction has blocked the Home Office from housing asylum seekers in dozens of Norfolk hotels.

The temporary ban has been imposed after Great Yarmouth Borough Council won a court battle to stop migrants from being placed in town hotels.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Villa Rose Hotel in Prince's RoadThe Villa Rose Hotel in Prince's Road (Image: Newsquest)

The authority argued that the sites were unsuitable and that they should be kept available for tourists visiting the resort.

The High Court agreed and imposed the injunction, which covers a large part of the Yarmouth seafront and prevents asylum seekers being housed in any of the 59 hotels in the area.

It comes after a number of local communities saw migrants - who are waiting to have their claims processed - brought to the region by Serco, the Home Office contractor, following overcrowding and other problems at the government's main immigration facility in Kent. 

A similar legal case taken to stop asylum seekers being housed at the Rose and Crown in Wisbech failed to secure a temporary injunction.

In Yarmouth, a group of migrants arrived in the town in September and were housed at Hotel Victoria, on King's Road, with a temporary injunction then being placed against the Embassy Hotel to house more.

Another site, the Villa Rose Hotel, on Prince's Road, was lined up to take more.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The yellow section by the seafront is the planning zone affected by the temporary injunctionThe yellow section by the seafront is the planning zone affected by the temporary injunction (Image: GYBC)

But the council took legal action to prevent the move and on Wednesday was granted an interim injunction stopping the Villa Rose housing asylum seekers.

The move does not affect the 70 migrants already staying at Hotel Victoria, who can remain there.

But the measure does mean that hotels in what is called the GY6 planning policy area, which covers the seafront and roads leading to it, may not be used either.

The council says the injunction "affects approximately 59 hotels" and will help keep the seafront a tourist destination.

Wednesday's interim court order named the Villa Rose Hotel directly and went on to mention any other hotels situated within the council's Local Plan Policy Area GY6.

The order said hotels should not become a hostel, whether by accommodating or facilitating the accommodation of asylum seekers or otherwise. 

The hearing follows previous legal action by the borough council to try and stop two hotels - the Hotel Victoria and the Embassy Hotel - housing asylum seekers.

A council spokesman said: ‘‘The council sought the latest order because it was very recently made aware that hotels in the GY6 area had been approached by Serco to receive asylum seekers and were making preparations to do so.

"The council maintains that to house asylum seekers in this way would amount to hostel use rather than hotel use, which would be an unauthorised change of use in planning terms, and therefore a breach of planning control.

"The council has a local planning policy against changing hotels to hostel use, in order to protect the amenity of the part of the seafront which is key to the tourist economy.

"The injunction serves to protect and enforce that policy and preserve tourist use of hotels in the specific GY6 area.’’

The hearing for a final injunction over the GY6 ban is due to be heard at the High Court on December 20.

In addition, a hearing to consider a final injunction preventing hostel use in relation to the Embassy Hotel in Great Yarmouth is listed in the High Court for December 13.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are dealing with an unprecedented increase in asylum cases. Despite this, we continue to ensure that accommodation provided is safe, secure and leaves no one destitute."

Great Yarmouth Mercury:


Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Villa Rose HotelThe Villa Rose Hotel (Image: Newsquest)


The bid by Serco on behalf of the Home Office to house asylum seekers in more Yarmouth hotels had been resisted by town MP Brandon Lewis, who demanded a meeting with the home secretary over the issue.

“I’ve previously supported the council’s legal action to block hotels being repurposed as asylum hostels, as this use is detrimental to our tourism economy," he said.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Great Yarmouth MP Brandon LewisGreat Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis (Image: Sir Brandon Lewis)

"It saddens me that the council must resort to such action to protect the interests of local businesses and residents.” 

Mr Lewis recently tabled a series of questions in Parliament asking the home secretary Suella Braverman about the impact of hotels housing asylum seekers on community cohesion and tourism areas.

He then wrote to the home secretary highlighting the lack of engagement with the borough council, describing the decision as another “done deal” without any discussion. 

He said: “This is further evidence that officials are unconcerned about the wider impact their decisions are having on local neighbourhoods, and in particular the tourism economy in Great Yarmouth."