The Abingdon Blog

The Abingdon Blog is a photo record of events and places in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, started on January 1st 2006.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Another Chance Gone

The legal papers have all been signed. The Old Gaol's big secret is out. The details of the chosen developer, and three other contenders are on the Vale Web Site. 18 comments were added within the hour on the Abingdon Herald web site - a record. Most said 'Not more housing.'

The winning developer is Abingdon based Cranbourne Homes. You may have already seen their signs at the ex Ambulance Station and the ex Crossroads Garage. They have now added to their portfolio the ex Police Station and Old Gaol. Their offices are to be found in the courtyard behind the Brewery Tap in Ock Street.

Cranbourne Homes also own, and will be developing the adjoining Twickenham House at the same time as the Old Gaol complex to provide 61 homes in total. There will also be 14 units of affordable housing at Harcourt Way. A certain percent needs to be affordable in any development, and it appears that the rules allow them to be split across two locations.

Homes are the main business of Cranbourne Homes. But at the old Gaol there will also be:
  • Five to six restaurants and shops
  • Relocation of the Abingdon Bridge youth drop in centre to part of the Old Police Station on site
  • Access to the riverside garden through the ground floor of the Old Gaol, and side access from East St Helen Street.

So it could have been worse. It could have been all hotel and housing with a small area for local people to show their handicraft. It looks like the best one of the four schemes was chosen. But read the Wikipedia entry about Abingdon "For a town of its size, Abingdon is somewhat bereft of leisure facilities. The Regal Cinema closed in the 1980...etc etc..."

This is another chance gone.


Anonymous Newcomer said...

Evening backstreeter,

I haven't been in Abingdon long enough (one year) to truly appreciate what 'the locals' are complaining about, but I moved here in the expectation of finding an active market/country town. What I didn't expect was a town centre being drained by traffic problems and Tescos. Building more homes on the Old Goal/Twickenham House site just seems par for whoever's guiding the planning for the town.

What's the point in housing more people in a town centre whose viability is increasingly challenged by sheds on the fringe of town? This at a time when the economy looks as though it could turn (really) sour.

Restaurants and shops ... I think Abingdon has more than its fair share of restaurants for its size and there are too many empty shops already. What was needed was something to draw people into town and increase footfall for other businesses.

As an aside, I love your site. Since I found This Abingdon it's among the favourites I check in the morning. It gives a better idea of what's going on in the town than just about anything else (a picture tells ...). Last year's flooding photographs were excellent.

But ... would you get out so much without a dog?

All the best.

22 January 2008 20:39  
Blogger Backstreeter said...

Thanks newcomer. No without a dog I wouldn't get out much. Getting a dog changed my life.

22 January 2008 23:22  
Blogger Martin G said...

I agree that we have plenty of good restaurants already for such a small town, and with empty shops already, do we need more?
They will be tucked away somewhat down there but I am wondering if they will be geared towards the "boat people" who visit in the summer?
Unfortunately there is so much competition from out of town shops and leisure complexes (the Didcot cinema complex is excellent)that a small market town is bound to suffer.

23 January 2008 09:34  
Anonymous newcomer said...

Afternoon Martin g,

Shops for the 'boat people' ... they made it all the way from Vietnam ;0)?

I arrived in Abingdon at the very end of November last year and was keen to see how it would blossom when Summer and the boat people arrived. Some Summer.

I had the Dragon Boat racing down in my diary and even went down on the day, for about half-an-hour. The rain made it look like a party where somebody had forgotten to buy the booze.

The air-show ... on the Saturday I had some friends visit and took them to lunch at the Crown and Thistle (not bad for a knife 'n' fork pub lunch). When we came out the Red Arrows were doing their display and re-forming over Abingdon. Vivid memory of a lone plane scooting over Abingdon at about 2/300 feet (or so it seemed) and I thought how frightening it must be in war-zones to have something like that flying in anger. You missed the photo-op of the year, backstreeter.

Flood-Peak-Sunday and some blonde media-harpie appeared with a cameraman in tow asking us if we would 'like to be on the tele'. Don'tcha just hate the meedja wetting their pants at the thought of capturing other peoples' distress. There's a longer story there, but I'll leave it for now.

I found that a 'net acquaintance lives in Abingdon and he told me that the Council turned down planning for a cinema/etc complex on the fringe of town. Another numpty Council decision. What brief are these people working to? I can't imagine that any of them have any love for the town. Perhaps the best thing would be for their parking perks to be taken from them so people who have the real economic interests of Abingdon at heart (shoppers) can park their vehicles and spend their money in town. It's a tragedy that the tobacconist closed.

I'm a newcomer and sometimes I feel that the locals are just letting this happen around them and have given up all hope of influencing things (what passes for democracy nowadays). I think that what's left of Abingdon is worth saving.

Backstreeter, I'll look out for a bloke with a camera and a 'ginger rat on steroids' and introduce myself someday. Sorry, didn't mean to insult the dog - sometimes a pet is the only intelligent conversation you can get (goldfish are very good on Kant).

And a question ... why isn't this site more of a forum? A few centuries ago the townsfolk went mental over a set of horns and now they are placid.

Does anyone value where they live? Rhetorical question - I know the answer. Backstreeter is providing the context.

All the best

23 January 2008 15:34  
Blogger Martin G said...

Interesting thoughts from Newcomer - especially agree about the media. Last week we had BBC South Today next door interviewing my neighbour, who was panicking despite my assurances that the river floods every year and nothing would come of the latest deluge.
Sorry to read about the Busy Bee - no doubt this will become another flat. I wonder how it was affected by the long closure of the Coop?However some new businesses are doing well - Limoncello is often full and the new computer shop seems to be making a go of it.

24 January 2008 10:45  
Anonymous Alan Lovedog said...

I'm glad the out of town cinema plan was turned down - it was actually planned to be built in the field adjoining Tesco - the one that was under 4 feet of water only last week - a fully functioning floodplain !

24 January 2008 12:56  
Blogger Backstreeter said...

there is a forum at Abingdon Forum

7 February 2008 21:57  

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