Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 11:12 UK

Plans for asylum centre approved

Protesters gathered at the proposed asylum seeker detention centre
Protesters have argued the centre would be inhumane

Plans for a detention centre to house 800 failed asylum seekers near Bicester have been approved.

Bullingdon Detention Centre will be across the road from Bullingdon Prison and is set to be the largest in Europe. It will provide almost 500 jobs.

Opponents of the centre who have called it "inhumane and unnecessary" have picketed the site in protest and vowed to continue their fight to stop it.

Cherwell District Council planning committee approved plans on Thursday.

Planning consent had been delayed until concerns the site was prone to flooding were investigated.

The centre will be designed and secured to the same standard as a Category C prison, meaning detainees would be locked inside.

It will be built on former Ministry of Defence land between Piddington and Arncott.

A spokesperson for the UK Border Agency said: "Expanding the detention estate is a critical part of our plans to increase the removal of those who have no legal basis to stay in the UK and the fast removal of those who come and commit serious crimes.

"Last year we removed over 66,000 people including nearly 5,400 foreign national prisoners.

"This proposed development will ensure we can step up removals of those foreign nationals who come to Britain and refuse to play by the rules."

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