People ‘remain in dark’ over Abingdon shops plan

The Oxford Times: Abingdon Town Council leader Sandy Lovatt Abingdon Town Council leader Sandy Lovatt

RESIDENTS must be updated on delayed £50m plans to further redevelop Abingdon’s Charter shopping area, a councillor has said.

Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP) has pledged to build a supermarket, medical centre, library and possibly a hotel there since 2009.

It has a 150-year lease from Vale of White Horse District Council and has already spent £4.5m revamping existing shops.

Liberal Democrat councillor Richard Webber has called on the Tory Vale leaders to “stop keeping people in the dark” over the revamp.

He also said he was concerned about the project’s progress after briefings.

Mr Webber, Liberal Democrat group leader on the Vale, said: “The people of Abingdon have been waiting a long time for this and they are as much in dark now as they were a year ago.

“The administration need to allow the public to know what is going on here.

“Let us know if things are going wrong.”

SWIP was bought for £650m by city investment firm, Aberdeen Asset Management, last year.

Abingdon Town Council leader Sandy Lovatt said: “We need to know whether Aberdeen are in favour of the [Charter] plan.

“Scottish Widows are going to have to go to the Aberdeen board of directors to check it is still OK to proceed.

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“Aberdeen has a good reputation but even so their attitude is not as local as they like to make out.”

SWIP spokesman Kahrene Lawrie said: “Unfortunately we are unable to provide further details at this stage but we are making progress towards this vision.”

When SWIP unveiled the plans in 2009, senior investment manager Peter Webb said: “We appreciate that Abingdon residents have been given promises by previous owners which has resulted in disappointed shoppers.”

The then-Abingdon and District Chamber of Commerce chairman Peter Wiblin said at the time that the overhaul was “long overdue”.

The Vale signed a £53m lease deal with SWIP to redevelop the area in 2011, and later that year Sainsbury’s said it was “looking for opportunities” to move to Abingdon.

Town council leader Sandy Lovatt said last year he expected SWIP to apply for planning permission for the Charter revamp in January.

Comments (4)

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1:06pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

It's difficult for major Scottish companies to be definitive about plans in England right now - after all, they don't know what currency they'll be using in the near future.

After the Referendum in September things should be a bit clearer.
It's difficult for major Scottish companies to be definitive about plans in England right now - after all, they don't know what currency they'll be using in the near future. After the Referendum in September things should be a bit clearer. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -3

1:38pm Mon 17 Mar 14

the wizard says...

Nothing new with Tories keeping folk in the dark, in Witney as and when they choose they bar the Oxford Mail and hold many meetings behind closed doors. Just what are they trying to hide ??? Surely it is time that they came to realize that all this cloak and dagger stuff only breads mistrust and doubts surrounding their ability.
Nothing new with Tories keeping folk in the dark, in Witney as and when they choose they bar the Oxford Mail and hold many meetings behind closed doors. Just what are they trying to hide ??? Surely it is time that they came to realize that all this cloak and dagger stuff only breads mistrust and doubts surrounding their ability. the wizard
  • Score: 0

1:45pm Mon 17 Mar 14

EMBOX2 says...

The revamped precinct is a disaster. Its full of rubbish shops, because that's all that survives in retail these days.

Sainsburys who were going to be the lynchpin of the Charter have pulled out, and left a massive hole in the plans. They now want to build a store elsewhere in Abingdon (which in my opinion should be refused).

So we need a big retailer with lots of money to come in. That won't happen - because the few who are left either already have a major presence (Tesco) or Abingdon isn't big enough to attract them.

The only thing I can see being done is to build an entertainment destination, with restaurants, cinema, some shops, etc as Didcot now has.

Without it, Abingdon will continue to be an odd backwater town!
The revamped precinct is a disaster. Its full of rubbish shops, because that's all that survives in retail these days. Sainsburys who were going to be the lynchpin of the Charter have pulled out, and left a massive hole in the plans. They now want to build a store elsewhere in Abingdon (which in my opinion should be refused). So we need a big retailer with lots of money to come in. That won't happen - because the few who are left either already have a major presence (Tesco) or Abingdon isn't big enough to attract them. The only thing I can see being done is to build an entertainment destination, with restaurants, cinema, some shops, etc as Didcot now has. Without it, Abingdon will continue to be an odd backwater town! EMBOX2
  • Score: 5

5:37pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Gatos4 says...

Perfect solution - Doric can build their proposed development in Abingdon instead of Botley.
Perfect solution - Doric can build their proposed development in Abingdon instead of Botley. Gatos4
  • Score: 5

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