UP TO 500 asylum seekers are set to be housed in a temporary facility near Andover.

A piece of land belonging to the Ministry of Defence near the A303 at Barton Stacey is set to become a temporary holding facility whilst their applications are processed, according to the leader of Test Valley Borough Council.

Cllr Phil North has set up a petition against the proposal, calling it "bad news", adding that "putting these individuals up in temporary buildings akin to an open prison is the wrong accommodation in the wrong location".

The Home Office has proposed the portacabin style accommodation will be erected on the site, which is immediately south of the A303 at the Barton Stacey turn-off.

The short-term facility will house up to 500 asylum seekers primarily from Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Eritrea who arrived in the UK via boat, according to Cllr North.

Test Valley Borough Council understands that Barton Stacey is one of the sites the Government is currently considering. A decision is expected to be made in the next few weeks.

"Whilst I understand the argument about disincentivising dangerous channel crossings facilitated by criminal gangs of people smugglers - and whether you think this country should house more asylum seekers or not - putting these individuals up in temporary buildings akin to an open prison is the wrong accommodation in the wrong location.

"Apart from some dining and basic recreation facilities, there will be nothing for them to do.

"There are few places I would consider less appropriate for a facility of this nature and it concerns me that this would even be considered.

"With no substantial facilities in the vicinity, occupants of the camp will almost certainly want to access the A303 road services on foot. This represents a significant highway danger in them walking on land adjacent to the road and in the carriageway itself.

"In my view, this is unacceptably dangerous to both the travelling public and the asylum seekers themselves, many of whom will no doubt be tempted to walk to Andover to use the facilities in the town.

"I would also suggest that with poor accommodation and easy access to the road network, many of them will abscond anyway and slip into the black economy."

The council leader also raised concerns over "community tensions", saying he fears that "because these individuals have arrived by nefarious means that there will be significant community tensions".

"An influx of 500 young men in a village with an existing population of just 1,000, would have an overwhelmingly detrimental impact," Cllr North added.

"In other similar facilities, this has led to an increase in anti-social behaviour and criminality.

"It is right that this country houses its fair share of genuine refugees and taking them directly from the camps rather than encouraging people smuggling is the right way to do it."

He, alongside MP Caroline Nokes, a former immigration minister herself, have launched a petition calling on the Home Office to abandon their plans.

You can view the petition here.

The Home Office have been contacted for comment.