Delight after victory for campaign

CAMPAIGNERS are delighted after a two-and-a-half-year battle to stop a landmark building being used to house asylum seekers finally ended.

News of the sale of Caythorpe Court by the Angel Group to PGL Travel for an undisclosed sum came just ahead of the Home Office announcement that it was dropping plans for asylum centres in rural England because of opposition from neighbouring communities.

The Angel Group bought the former agricultural college in December 2002 and announced plans to turn it into an emergency centre for asylum seekers.

Caythorpe Court will now be developed as a residential activity centre for school groups, subject to planning permission. Typical term-time activities will include abseiling, archery and climbing, while the site will be given over to family activity breaks during school holidays.

South Kesteven district councillor for Caythorpe and Fulbeck Peter Martin-Mayhew said the news was good for both villages.

He said: "Locals will be glad to get the pressure off them - it has been such a contentious issue for so long.

"It was not suited for what the Government wanted because of the infrastructure, but this looks like an excellent idea. Hopefully everyone concerned will benefit from this."

The company plans to spend 2 million on the site and hopes to have it ready by next March. The purchase could boost local business and create jobs with up to 100 staff to be employed at the centre to cater for around 300, which will climb to 500.

PGL was founded in 1957 organising canoe camping trips for groups of young adults in Hertfordshire and now has 28 centres in the UK, France and Spain.

*News that Caythorpe Court will not be used to house asylum seekers has delighted residents.

Caythorpe Parish Council chairman Andy Roberts said: "We are very pleased with the news. We hope that PGL Travel's plans will benefit the area economically and provide employment."

Caythorpe postmistress Alison Marston said: "It is absolutely brilliant. There couldn't be a better use for the site especially as many will be activities involving children."

Terry Norman, who helped to set up Caythorpe in Action with wife Janet to fight Angel Group proposals, said: "It is a big relief and we feel we have accomplished the original aim which was to stop it being used as an immigration centre."

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