Brexit blamed for plans to flatten Friday Bridge camp and build 100 homes
- Credit: Archant
More than 100 homes could replace a sprawling rural hostel after owners blamed Brexit for a dramatic fall-off in Eastern European workers coming to the Fens.
Wayne Cottrill of WMS Recruitment brought Friday Bridge camp 10 years ago to house seasonal and other European workers.
But his agent has told Fenland District Council numbers arriving have dropped since Brexit.
The 12-acre site, used since the war for mainly students arriving here for seasonal work, has at times housed 300 people
The camp hosted Italians and Ukrainians from 1943 before becoming a hostel for agricultural workers after the war.
But now WSM want to turn it into housing, flattening and clearing the student blocks and accommodation.
The proposal is for the demolition of the existing buildings and replace them with up to 58 flats and up to 44 houses.
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Agents Swann Edwards say there has been a “reduction in personnel coming to work in the country since the Brexit vote”.
It was originally a prisoner of war camp during the second world war, then latterly an international hostel for agricultural workers.
Swann Edwards says the decline in workers coming to the country “is starting to become a drain on the company and it is time to look for alternatives for the site”.
“The proposed development is the most logical approach for the site,” it says.
They believe the new housing “will integrate some of the existing buildings both historic and more recent with new housing”.
It will “create a community of its own, much as it is already with the workers that live there”.
They also promise a “playing field large enough to accommodate a football pitch and to retain the existing shop that exists on site”.
Swann Edwards says there is scope within the site to include home offices and studies in order that future occupants can work from home.
"The current occupation of the camp is well below a sustainable level to make the enterprise viable,” says the company.
That has led to the application coming forward “and following a meeting with the head planning officer for Fenland District Council and also one of the ward councillors that were broadly in support of the proposal”.
Swann Edwards also argues that the accommodation on the site “does not meet the needs of the workers”.
It says there are “alternative forms of accommodation available to the business, often closer to where the individuals are working”.