Page last updated at 08:56 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Immigration centre plans go ahead

New removal centre in Bedfordshire
An artist's impression of the new removal centre in Bedfordshire

Planning permission has been granted for a new immigration centre near an existing unit in Bedfordshire.

The UK Border Agency wants to build a detention unit to house 500 single men at Yarl's Wood and says it will be built to prison standards.

The existing centre houses about 450 single women and families.

Bedford Borough Council has given permission for the plans, which involve rebuilding part of the complex destroyed in a riot and fire in 2002.

Almost half the Yarl's Wood detention centre was destroyed in the blaze on 14 February 2002 and led to its closure for more than a year.

Failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants moved back into the undamaged buildings in September 2003.

The UK Border Agency said its calculations had shown more accommodation was needed for single men.

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