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Public give their ideas for future of Abingdon town centre

Thousands of comments from residents, community groups, businesses and visitors have contributed to a document that sets out possibilities for how some locations in Abingdon town centre could be improved.

In summer 2022, Vale of White Horse District Council and its consultant team including Carter Jonas and Glanville, asked people their views on some of the major issues and locations in central Abingdon, including three key sites owned by the local authority: The Charter, Abbey House and The Upper Reaches.

Hundreds of people gave their views and hundreds more attended a two-day pop-up exhibition in a retail unit in Bury Street on 17 and 18 June. Many also completed an online survey that was open for four weeks until mid-July.

In total, 355 people attended the exhibition and 385 individuals responded via the survey, generating 4,305 individual comments. The comments have been used to help create the Central Abingdon Regeneration Framework (CARF), which will set out realistic options for how the town centre sites could be redeveloped.

Councillor Neil Fawcett, Cabinet Member for Strategic Partnerships and Place and ward member for Abingdon Caldecott, added: “The framework will not be prescriptive, it is not a formal plan but it is hoped it will act as a prospectus to guide and steer future development in Abingdon town centre

“But we need to be realistic – the council cannot achieve this alone and will need partners and developers to work with us if we want to realise Abingdon’s potential.”

Some 61% of respondents to the online survey either strongly supported or supported the CARF vision the council consulted on, whilst 24% thought it could be improved.

Respondents highlighted the many great things about central Abingdon, with the most common being the river, access to green spaces – including Abbey Meadow and the playground, the history, character and aesthetic of central Abingdon, the Market Place, and the great variety of shops, particularly the independent shops.

We asked people what suggestions they have for improving Abingdon, which included providing a better retail, food and beverage offer, addressing traffic volume and control, and improving parking and accessibility.

A full analysis of the engagement process and outcomes is included in the CARF Consultation Report.

Councillor Andrew Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Assets, said: “Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the engagement we carried out. It’s vital that the work we’re doing has the Abingdon community at the heart of it so to have so many responses is fantastic.”

As well as consulting with the public, the council is liaising with the Abingdon Neighbourhood Development Plan Steering Group, which includes members of the town council, as the group develops Abingdon’s Neighbourhood Plan.

The CARF will also help inform the Joint Local Plan being developed by Vale of White Horse District Council alongside South Oxfordshire District Council.