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Elgin asylum seekers hotel appeals to Scottish Government after Moray Council planning decision

Eight Acres Hotel is currently being used by the Home Office to provide accommodation for people awaiting the outcome of asylum applications.

The Eight Acres Hotel in Elgin. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson
The Eight Acres Hotel in Elgin. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

An Elgin hotel housing asylum seekers has gone to the Scottish Government after Moray Council refused to authorise it.

The Eight Acres Hotel on Morriston Road is currently being used by the Home Office. It provides accommodation for people awaiting the outcome of asylum applications.

In August, planning chiefs refused the hotel’s application for a Certificate of Lawfulness.

The certificate would have confirmed the use was lawful and required no planning permission.

Instead, officials ruled retrospective planning permission was required for the change of the use.

Front sign of Eight Acres hotel.
The Eight Acres hotel. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Around three months on, the Eight Acres Hotel has now appealed to the Scottish Government to overrule the rejection.

Documents submitted by agents Montagu Evans on behalf of the hotel owners argue no change of use has taken place.

Moray Council.

The firm says: “No change of use has taken place at the hotel as a result of accepting guests as part of the Home Office scheme.

“No physical alterations have been carried out at the hotel premises to enable the occupation of Home Office asylum guests.

“This emphasises there has been no change of use at the premises – simply a change of the circumstance of the guests that are using the hotel’s facilities.

“Class 7 does not include any specific reference to length of stay or
prescribe that guests must have another place of residence.”

Why did Moray Council reject the application?

A Moray Council spokeswoman previously said: “The rejection of the Certificate of Lawfulness application by Moray Council is solely a procedural matter about need for planning permission.

“This process does not assess the planning merits of whether or not such use is acceptable, and this would be considered under any future planning application if submitted.”

What is life like at Eight Acres?

The asylum seekers are allocated their own rooms at the hotel and given their meals.

They receive £9.10 a week from the UK Government.

As they are not allowed to work while their claims are being processed, opportunities are being given to take part in activities and appropriate volunteering roles.

The Eight Acres Hotel in Elgin. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

In April, festival-goers were left scrabbling for accommodation after their reservations were cancelled just days before the MacMoray Festival.

The hotel blamed reasons “outside of our control” after closing down to the public as part of the contract to house asylum seekers.

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