We held a public consultation on the plans between 29 September and 20 October 2020. Comments will be recorded and responded to in a Statement of Community Involvement which will shortly be submitted to LBN as part of the planning application.
We have prepared a summary of frequently asked questions to respond to the comments raised throughout the consultation process. Please click on the theme below to view the related questions.
The building is part of the wider Home Office estate. Part of the building will operate as a Reporting Centre to support and progress individuals going through the immigration process. The remaining part will be used as a general office for wider Home Office functions, including managing casework.
The Reporting & Offender Management (ROM) operation is the Home Office’s principle point of contact for all individuals who have no right to stay in the UK, with individuals reporting to immigration enforcement centres.
Reporting is a condition of immigration bail, paragraph 2(1)(d) of schedule 10 to the Immigration Act 2016. Reportees are assigned a caseworker and processes are in place to monitor compliance with immigration / bail conditions. This will include working closely with other authorities such as the police and probation service.
The Reporting Centre will be used by Home Office staff to maintain contact with people who have no lawful status in the UK. It will be used for pre-booked appointments and interviews and on occasion will be used to temporally hold an individual.
It will also be used to support asylum applicants, including vulnerable individuals and families going through the process.
It will also be used by Immigration, Compliance and Enforcement officers to support operations in the community.
The site is owned by the Greater London Authority, who is the ultimate landlord of the site. The immediate landlord is London & Regional Properties PLC and London International Exhibition Centre also has a long leasehold interest.
It is a new location rather than a new centre as the Home Office is moving the offices and services from Becket House in Southwark to Warehouse K.
The facility at Becket House has operated as such since 1997, however the site is earmarked for re-development when the current lease ends and the Home Office therefore requires a new premises to house a modern facility.
The unit will be used to temporarily hold individuals who have no lawful status in the UK pending further enquiries being made into their circumstances. Individuals can be held until onward transportation is arranged or they are released.
In accordance with legislation the Home Office has the ability to hold people for a maximum of 24 hours. However, the Home Office always aims to keep the period of time that people are held to a minimum (generally less than 12 hours).
For those held at the centre during the day, there will be a scheduled collection for transport to more permanent facilities which have the necessary facilities for longer stays.
In the event that an individual is brought to the site during the night, officers may manage the onward transport themselves or arrange for a specific pick up; at all times the objective is to keep the use of the temporary holding rooms as short as possible.
Full planning permission and listed building consent was granted in October 2019 (Ref: 19/02504/FUL & 19/02505/LBC) for external and internal alterations under the existing planning use for offices (now Class E).
The intent, was always to operate the Reporting Centre and the Home Office had understood, based on other similar facilities, that this could be covered under the office use as it would be ancillary to the main use. However, Newham Council as planning authority has advised the Home Office that they require permission to be given specifically for the Reporting Centre.
The Home Office has been searching for a suitably located site to replace the existing premises at Becket House. The Warehouse K site is already easily accessible and close to public transport links that are set to be improved over the coming years.
The Home Office has been fitting out the site in accordance with the existing planning permission but the site is not yet occupied. Once the work is completed, Home Office staff will start to occupy the offices, but the Reporting Centre will not be occupied until permission has been granted.
Whilst there are residential buildings in the area, the Royal Docks is also a commercial centre and Excel is immediately to the east. The site is adjacent to Custom House DLR Station which will soon benefit from the additional capacity and connectivity offered by the Elizabeth line which will boost the site’s accessibility.
In line with our approach of providing easily accessible locations across London, the Newham Reporting Centre will provide a third location outside of central London in addition to other reporting centres in Hounslow and Croydon.
The process is managed by Home Office staff and audited at various times by a number of independent bodies such as the Independent Monitoring Board for non-residential Short Term Holding Facilities; the Office of the Chief Inspector of Prisons; the Office of the Independent Chief Inspectorate of Borders and Immigration.
The Home Office is currently undertaking a review of reporting which is likely to result in a blended approach, including telephone and digital reporting, thereby reducing the need for face-to-face contact. We anticipate the implication of this could be a reduction of up to 50% of the numbers of daily visitors previously recorded (approx. 650 per day pre Covid-19 at Becket House, Southwark).
There will be two separate entrances; one for staff and one for members of the general public. Staff will access the Reporting Centre via an existing entrance off the concourse connecting Custom House DLR to ExCeL centre.
The public will attend site by appointment only during office hours and access the building through an existing entrance located on Western Gateway. This access gate will be open between 9am-4pm into the courtyard and this is the only time that the public will be able to use this access point. This will be fully secured and visitors to the Home Office will only have access to the Reporting Centre.
The staff entrance will remain operational at all times.
We will be applying for the planning permission to appoint appropriate way-finding signage towards the Reporting Centre.
Visitors to the site will only be using the Western Gateway entrance during office hours (between 9am and 4pm). The residential areas will not therefore be affected.
There will be a queuing system used within the reporting area to allow those with appointments to be directed to the appropriate areas.
Queues should not form as it is an appointment only system.
The Reporting Centre will take up around a third of the space occupied by the Home Office.
The Home Office will be looking to occupy the office space in November 2020. This will not include any public visitors.
The Reporting Centre will not be in operation until the required permission is in place.
The relocated Home Office will employ approximately 364 people in total on site, of which 39 will work directly in the Reporting Centre.
All current staff from Becket House in Southwark have the option to relocate. New staff will be recruited where needed.
Yes, it is anticipated that staff will use local facilities, which will provide a benefit for local business.
No public/staff parking is provided for those attending the site during office hours and we anticipate the majority of trips will be made by public transport.
There will be 42 parking spaces in the NCP, with 8 spaces allocated for unmarked fleet vehicles and the remainder available for staff travelling to and from work outside of public transport hours.
Any on-site parking will be for operational vehicles only within the permitted use.
An Interim Travel Plan has been produced to support this application. The ITP identifies a number of measures to encourage sustainable travel to the site by both employees and visitors.
In addition, there are two car parks close to the proposed development; the Royal Victoria and ExCeL London car parks which are located to the west and east of the proposed development respectively. Royal Victoria Car Park provides 2,000 parking spaces and is open 24 hours a day. There are 3,070 parking spaces across the ExCel London car parks which are open 24 hours.
We would expect the majority of visitors to travel by public transport.
We anticipate the majority of trips will be made by public transport (particularly as the DLR and Elizabeth Line station is so close).
A Transport Assessment will be submitted to the local Highway Authority to support this planning application.
All visitors and staff will be encouraged to travel by sustainable modes through measures as identified in the Interim Travel Plan.
Based upon information provided by the Home Office it is anticipated that the majority of visitor trips will occur outside typical peak hours and will predominantly use public transport and active modes.
Based on the estimated modal split profile, the number of daily operational vehicle trips are considered negligible and will be typically spread throughout the day.
Even at the pre-Covid attendee rate of 650 attendees per day, it is a very small number of trips in the context of the thousands of daily attendees the public transport network in this area handles when there are large events held at ExCel.
It is anticipated that the majority of visitor trips will occur outside peak hours when demand is typically lower and will predominantly use public transport and active modes. Trips will be spread throughout the day.
The number of vehicle movements will be negligible in the context of existing traffic.
All visitors and staff will be encouraged to travel by sustainable modes through measures as identified in the Interim Travel Plan which has been produced for the site.
The application has no impact on them apart from custom that will be generated.
Even at the pre-Covid attendee rate of 650 attendees per day, it is a very small number of trips in the context of the thousands of daily attendees this area handles when there are large events held at ExCel. Therefore, no specific measures are needed.
The Reporting Centre will be open to members of the public from 9am to 4pm on weekdays however we are currently operating during the COVID-19 pandemic with reduced opening times of 10am to 3pm.
The holding unit is located away from residential areas opposite to the station, therefore any out of hours activity is unlikely to impact on the residents.
There is no reason to think the Reporting Centre will create any additional antisocial behaviour or littering in the area.
There will be internal security measures in place including but not limited to:
Some people within our reporting population will have criminal convictions for a range of different offences.
Where there is a known issue, the Home Office will undertake a risk assessment prior to issuing appointments to visitors and appropriate measures taken.
No. There will be Home Office security present on site.
The application has no impact on any service apart from public transport and this is negligible in the context of existing use.
Prior to starting work on this application, the Home Office entered detailed discussions with Newham Council on a reporting centre in the borough to replace Becket House in 2017. Council sites were offered to the Home Office as potential solutions, however none of these were deemed suitable. Discussions around Warehouse K started in 2019.
For this Change Of Use application consultation, we have contacted the Mayor of Newham, ward members for Custom House, Canning Town South and the Royal Docks wards. We will continue to update them with any further information regarding the proposals.
We have been in contact with a local residents’ association and have also been in contact with a number of businesses within the surrounding area.
We contacted approximately 1,500 addresses near to the site to inform residents about the development proposals and to allow them to provide feedback via phone, email, and an online feedback form.
The intention is to submit the planning application in winter 2020.
Once it has been permitted, which should be within 13 weeks of submission of the application.
In the normal way, by considering the application, consulting on it and then assessing it against planning policies, including the London and Local Plans.
The consultation feedback period has now closed. All feedback will be summarised and responded to in a Statement of Community Involvement, which will be submitted as part of the planning application. Once the application has been submitted and validated there will be a statutory 21 days consultation period whereby you can submit comments to the Council via the planning application portal online the London Borough of Newham website.