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A regeneration review for central Abingdon is underway

Parts of Abingdon that have seen better days could have brighter futures as the Vale of White Horse District Council sets its sights on revitalising aspects of the town centre.

The district council is working with an organisation that specialises in ‘regeneration’ to carry out a review of the town centre to identify realistic options for improving buildings, land and transport routes to help make central Abingdon a thriving place in the future. 

The review will include three properties the council owns in the town – the Charter area and car park, Abbey House, and the Upper Reaches Hotel – to see how they might need to change in the future to complement the wider work to enhance the town’s vitality and environment.

As part of its review, the district council will be engaging directly with community groups and local business this spring to help identify challenges and areas for improvement in the town, and then more widely with the public through a survey and town centre event in the summer.

The review will be closely aligned to the development of Abingdon’s Neighbourhood Plan, which is being led by a community group including members of the town council.

The feedback from the community, along with the findings of the Neighbourhood Plan group’s public engagement, will shape a document the district council will publish later this year, which will identify what future improvements are needed in the town for when an opportunity presents itself and to direct future decisions to support the vision for central Abingdon.

Cllr Andy Crawford, Cabinet Member for Corporate Assets at the Vale, said: “We’re really looking forward to working with the community and our partners to find ways of revitalising parts of the town centre in the future when an opportunity presents itself. There’s a good strong focus on central Abingdon from a number of organisations at the moment, so now is a perfect time for us to get this work underway.

“Building strong communities, making the best use of our properties, and working in partnership are all objectives we have for the district that we set out in our Corporate Plan.”

The new document will also help the Vale deliver on objectives set out in its Climate Action Plan, and the council aims to align its work with an Oxfordshire-wide cycling and walking project, which aims to create better connectivity between homes, town centres and business parks. 

Note to editors

The Charter car park, one of the properties that is part of this review, is currently subject to urgent and long-term repairs and maintenance and so the upper floors are currently closed while the council carries out some extensive investigations into to structural issues and fire safety. The lower floors are safe to use and open and throughout the partial closure of the multi-storey. There is plenty of space in car parks on the edge of town only a few minutes’ walk into the town centre in Abingdon to cope with demand.

Abbey House is currently being leased by Oxfordshire County Council for office space.

The district council owns the freehold on the Upper Reaches Hotel, but it is on a very long lease to a third party and has been closed for a number of years. The council currently has little legal ability to influence that situation.