New signage hints at reopening of Aylesbury hotel currently accommodating rough sleepers

People were taken off the streets when Covid first hit three years ago
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New signage on a hotel in Aylesbury, which has been used to house rough sleepers since the start of Covid, suggests it could be reopening.

Residents spotted new signage placed on the side of the former Best Western and Holiday Inn hotel on Watermead over the weekend.

The sign reads Garden Court Hotel.

The hotel - formerly Best Western and Holiday Inn - has been used to house rough sleepers since the start of the Covid pandemicThe hotel - formerly Best Western and Holiday Inn - has been used to house rough sleepers since the start of the Covid pandemic
The hotel - formerly Best Western and Holiday Inn - has been used to house rough sleepers since the start of the Covid pandemic
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Since the pandemic started in March 2020, the hotel has been used to provide accommodation to homeless people in Bucks.

A strategy was developed by the Government in 2020 to get rough sleepers into hotels to safeguard them against contracting the coronavirus.

However, funding for the scheme ended three months later and most hotels went back to operating as businesses when Covid restrictions ended.

This is not the case at the hotel on Watermead, now sporting Garden Court Hotel signage, which has remained closed for over three years.

New sign saying Garden Court HotelNew sign saying Garden Court Hotel
New sign saying Garden Court Hotel
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Most recently a Best Western property, a spokesman for the chain confirmed to The Bucks Herald last year that the business was no longer owned by the franchise.

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Best Western also states it is no longer in contact with the current owners.

Despite the new sign, residents cannot make bookings to stay at the Aylesbury hotel and staff could not confirm whether the venue is set to reopen.

Via a Freedom of Information request The Bucks Herald was able to confirm the site is currently used to house rough sleepers by Bucks Council.

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This differs from some other nearby Best Western chains that have been used to house asylum seekers.

In nearby Buckingham, its Best Western hotel became a site for people waiting to discover whether their applications to stay in the UK have been successful.

Bucks Council declined to comment on how the hotel is being used and whether it is set to reopen in the near future.

It states due to a commercial confidentiality agreement its economic growth team has with the current owners, the local authority cannot address the goings on at the hotel directly.

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Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures taken in 2022 showed that 16 people were estimated to be sleeping rough in Buckinghamshire, in 2021 just three people were found to be sleeping outdoors when a similar study was taken that autumn.

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