‘Cannabis Factories’ in U.K. To Be Cleared for Student Housing

Police said that the total value of the plants was almost £4m.
Plans for 119-122 High Street and 55-59 Castle Way in Southampton via BBC

Three years ago, police in a British city found that a pair of old buildings had been used as a massive cannabis growhouse. Now, those same facilities will be leveled to make way for housing for students. 

When life gives you lemons, right? 

BBC News reports that the “Southampton City Council approved plans for a 250-room student housing scheme at the site, which was raided by police in 2021.”

The two “derelict city centre buildings, which were once used as cannabis factories, will be destroyed to make way for student accommodation,” according to the BBC.

The BBC reported at the time of the raid that “1,782 plants were found…in two disused commercial properties on High Street and Castle Way,” and that two men who were “initially arrested on suspicion of producing Class B drugs, were now being treated as potential victims.”

“We know that a lot people will think, it’s just cannabis, but we want to stress that any production of drugs is linked to hidden harm. Large scale operations like this are often run by organised crime gang. Those gangs are likely to engage in very serious violence involving weapons, such as firearms. They may also take advantage of vulnerable people, exploiting them or making them work in servitude,” chief inspector Ricky Dhanda of the local constabulary said in a statement back then

“The electrical requirement to grow this many plants is also really dangerous and can be a huge fire risk, putting neighbouring properties, and lives in danger. It is not just cannabis, it’s linked to serious criminality. That’s why we are really keen to hear from people who suspect there is cannabis cultivation or drug related activity going on their neighbourhood. Every call you make to us is logged and helps us build up an intelligence picture about what might be happening in your community. This allows us to take action and prevent your neighbourhoods from harm.”

On Friday, the BBC reported that the vacant “three-storey and four-storey buildings fronting Southampton High Street and a former snooker hall on the Castle Way side will be bulldozed.”

Former snooker hall to be bulldozed. Via BBC.

More from the BBC

“The applicant, Big Sur, said the work ‘would introduce an active frontage back into the street scene on two city centre streets. It added it would ‘contribute a significant amount of student accommodation which has been demonstrated as an identified need within the city.’ Plans would see the creation of a five to six-storey main block with 249 student bedrooms in a mix of cluster flats, studios and accessible flats alongside a second smaller three-storey complex for eight student bedrooms. The Old Town Community Forum objected to the proposal, with particular issues over the density of the scheme, the long-term viability of student housing and the design of the buildings. One of the buildings to be replaced is the site of the former Castle Snooker Club, which first opened in 1970.”

The BBC added that one group, the Old Town Community Forum, “objected to the proposal, with particular issues over the density of the scheme, the long-term viability of student housing and the design of the buildings.”

2021 proved to be a big golden age for peculiar British busts. That same year, in London’s financial district, police there discovered a massive growhouse after responding to “reports of a strong smell of cannabis.”

One of the old growhouses. Via BBC.

“A significant ‘cannabis factory’ of 826 plants has been dismantled and destroyed by officers from the City of London Police,” the cops said at the time. “The initial discovery was made on the afternoon of Wednesday 13 January, following reports of a strong smell of cannabis, and a warrant was obtained to enter the premises on Thursday 14 January.”

Andy Spooner, the London detective who handled that investigation, said that the comparatively low amount of foot-traffic in the area at the time, a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, may have played a role in the operation.

“This is the first cannabis factory in the City, no doubt being set up in response to fewer people being out and about during the pandemic who might have noticed any unusual activity,” Spooner said. “However, this demonstrates that City of London Police continues to actively police the Square Mile, bearing down on any crime committed here.” 

Then there was the discovery of a massive illicit grow operation made later in 2021 at a 17th century castle in Somerset

The Regina Leader-Post reported at the time that the owner of the castle, a “controversial British aristocrat” named Sir Benjamin Slade, “rented out Woodlands Castle in Somerset earlier this year.” 

“The castle is known locally as a high-end wedding venue and is situated just a few miles away from Slade’s other castle — an ancestral home that dates back to the 13th century. Woodlands has been closed for events since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the outlet reported then. “Slade had offered up the castle to the U.K. government to use as a medical facility at the height of the pandemic, but the proposal was evidently declined and he ended up renting out the property instead. So far, authorities believe he was unaware of any illegal activity being carried out on the property.”

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