Campsfield House immigration centre expansion plan shelved

image captionThe application proposing the expansion of Campsfield House was due to be considered on 19 March

A plan to expand an immigration removal centre, making it one of the largest in Europe, has been withdrawn by the home secretary.

The application proposed increasing Campsfield House in Kidlington, Oxfordshire from 260 beds to 610.

The Home Office earlier said there was a need for extra spaces, but Theresa May would first consider an independent review into detainees' welfare.

Campaigners against the expansion called it a "great victory".

image copyrightJohanna Lalelu
image captionOxford residents and academics protested against detaining immigrants at Campsfield House in November

The plan was due to be considered by Cherwell District Council on 19 March.

The centre has sparked regular human rights protests by campaigners who are against detaining immigrants and the expansion plan.

Campaigner Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at Oxford University's St Peter's College, said: "It is great to see that all the campaigning... has resulted in the withdrawal of the plans to expand the detention centre.

"One day there will be no detention camp in Kidlington. The only question is how long it will take for that day to come".

Bill MacKeith from Campaign To Close Campsfield said it was a "great victory" providing a chance to highlight the need for the end to the "barbaric imprisonment every year of 30,000 innocent people".

'Dignity and respect'

Oxford West and Abingdon Conservative MP Nicola Blackwood, who campaigned against the size of the building and expanding on green belt land, said: "Finally, common sense prevails".

A Home Office spokesman said: "Detaining and removing people with no right to be in the country, with dignity and respect, is an essential part of effective immigration controls.

"An independent review of detainees' welfare by the former prisons ombudsman Stephen Shaw, commissioned by the home secretary last month, will report back later this year."

He added Mrs May will also undertake a wider review of the future requirements of the UK's immigration detention estate, including capacity and location.

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