Abbey Meadow Refurbishment Ideas wanted

October 31, 2014

The Abbey Grounds had a major refurbishment back in 2007 – funded by Heritage Lottery money. In addition the Vale of White Horse District Council created a new play area in the Abbey Meadows and a water splash area, and despite the threat of closure the town council stepped in to keep the Open Air Pool going.
Abbey Meadow Refurb
The Abingdon’s Abbey Grounds riverside area is now very popular during the summer. The aims of a 2015 refurbishment are to make it popular all year round to a “wider demographic.”
Abbey Meadow Refurb
The area beside the River Thames currently includes: an outdoor swimming pool, a splash water feature, pitch and putt, a crazy golf course, outdoor tennis courts, a children’s play area, and areas to walk or relax by the river. (thanks to Richard Gottfried for the picture above.)

Now more money has been found by the Vale of the White Horse District Council to put towards a project in this same area in 2015.

They are inviting community groups to come forward and take part in workshops this November. One advertised on the internet will be Tuesday 4 November 6-8pm at the Guildhall in Abingdon. From ideas that come out of this, and other workshops, they will develop 3 schemes to go to public consultation in the spring.

On the District Council web site its says “The Vale of White Horse District Council is keen to invest in these facilities to further benefit residents and to see this prime riverside site appeal to an even wider demographic, so that it attracts visitors all year-round.

From their web adverts I see they envisage the workshop taking “2 hours and in order to engage with a broad section of groups, please could you only send 1 representative from your organisation, to discuss:

→ Your assessment of how the space is currently used and by who
→ How should we improve the area and why
→ Your thoughts on how you would like to see things move forward”

Filed under: Abbey Grounds

24 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Craig  |  October 31, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I vote for upgrading the mini-golf course (it’s awful) and replacing/levelling the tarmac on the tennis courts. Apart from that, leave well alone. It’s lovely as it is.

  • 2. Eddie  |  October 31, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    It would be nice to put a roof over the swimming pool with glass panels looking out over the river. It would give the oppurtunity for use all year round. This could free up some times for the successful swimming club to use at the Leisure centre, or even use this facility instead. If money is no object of course, a sliding roof for those summer days would do nicely.

  • 3. Astronaut  |  October 31, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Toilets that are open all year round would be a good start (unless that have already done that I haven’t noticed).

  • 4. Lyle Lanley  |  October 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Surely what we need is a monorail ?

    No, really, I mean, its no more far fetched than a cinema in the Guildhall.

  • 5. SIMON  |  October 31, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    It looks as if the toilets on the other side of the bridge ny the river car park are being replaced. The old free standing ( sorry ladies) ones were removed some time ago but i see this week that a new brick building has gone up in their place.

  • 6. Oxonchris  |  October 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Eddie your suggestion sort of defeats the object on an ‘Open Air Pool’ it its inherant charm.

    I agree the mini-golf could do with upgrading and I for one wouldn’t want anything too commercialised being out in as part of the charm of that area is the space and the river

  • 7. colin  |  October 31, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Don’t worry yourself tax payers ,the council will see to it that
    90% of funding will be spent on consultancy, further filling there mates pockets.

  • 8. Astronaut  |  October 31, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Just re-read my post and it makes little sense! I blame autocorrect.

  • 9. Daniel  |  October 31, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    …is ‘everyone’ allowed a voice on this; or just ‘community groups’?

    Are we allowed to know who the Project Manager is on this; just in case it goes wrong or there’s any issues we know who stands accountable. And of course who to congratulate if delivered as required, on time and on budget?

    The Vale has a poor record on delivering in some cases…it would be reassuring to know if ’some one new’ is responsible for this very worthwhile venture. Hopefully it will all come off really well…if so, I wonder if this beacon of light will be remembered come election time – as opposed to the not so shiny Vale beacons… Good timing, for those with short memories….a negerious ploy me thinks!

    Still…I really hope the local ‘youths’ get heard and get a skate park, band-zone, or whatever they might be keen on…as well as a decent crazy golf course, and a revamp to the now tired play park.

    If the project manager for this could walk accross the corridor at the council offive s to the “close all the vale public toilets committee” would be a useful start – just so the left hand can introduce itself to the right hand…

    This is a wonderful opportunity for Abingdon…I hope this project is well managed, listens, has accountability, and delivers.

    Would the £2m that Cranbourne Homes owe The Vale be useful to go towards this initiative? Does anyone know when Cranbourne will pay it? Or will they only do so when they complete the Gaols social housing? How’s that part of the project coming along, out of interest? I only ask as how successful one council project is could help the public gauge how successful the next is likely to be…

  • 10. Daniel  |  October 31, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    *oops, …that’s “neferious ploy”….

  • 11. James  |  October 31, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Can I suggest one really basic thing? Get the contractors who mow the grass to park in the car park, and not on the mud (which was grass) infront of the tennis courts. For the sake for saving themselves 2 minutes they wreck this whole area.

  • 12. James  |  October 31, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Other comments: the ‘crazy golf’ is rarely used. The playground very busy ar peak times. Please consider extending the busy one…….!

    They could also do with some basic maintenance. The most excellent old school roundabout is wobbly, and the swings don’t swing to well. All it need is some grease.

    Above all dont get rid of the “old” stuff, it is the best. ie the Red Horse, the metal roudabout. The huge tall slide. The “new” stuff is much less used. Eg the odd balance thing. Tried and tests for generations works well.

  • 13. Hester  |  November 1, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Daniel, James and others – I am going to one of these workshops next week and will happily pass on the suggestions you make. I have just checked the Vale website and what happens next is:
    “A number of different scenarios for the site will be worked up, based on the outcome of the workshop and from previous consultation work that has been carried out in the town. These ‘scenarios’ will be made public in Spring 2015 at a public consultation event, and residents will be asked to vote on which one they would like to see happen.”
    It is good to see that they are taking account of previous public consultations (such as the Choose Abingdon one in 2010) rather than reinventing the wheel.

  • 14. Hester  |  November 1, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    PS Daniel – while I agree with all the concerns about the Old Gaol, I don’t see how it can be described as a Vale project? They decided in 2005 to wash their hands of it – that’s why they sold it off. After that the future progress (or lack of it) was down to the new owners – all the Vale can/should do is make sure they abide by the conditions of sale – which as we know is a but questionable at present…

  • 15. Dave  |  November 1, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Can we be sure that this last open green space is not ruined by development, and that minority groups do not force unwanted work to be included in all three options.

    We should not hope the project is well managed, we must insist that it is.

  • 16. Jenbms  |  November 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    I love the Abbey Meadows and Gardens. My work is close by, and it’s a fabulous place to sit with a sandwich lunch (especially in unseasonably warm weather), or walk off the stress of office life. Recently I have started making use of the open air pool, which needs to remain open air, in my opinion, although a longer opening season/hours would be better.

  • 17. Chris L  |  November 1, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I agree with a lot of the above comments, although its been a long time since I used a kids playground. Or played crazy golf. But also agree about contractors not just parking anywhere on the field they feel like. the place is more like a moto x track there.
    Why not resurface the tarmac path round the Abbey meadows, and the surface over the bridge to the meadows before it floods again this year?
    When I asked the VWHDC to do it the first time it flooded in 2008 they did, as the path to abbey meadows stands they are the only bits on the path that are still in one piece and haven’t floated of with the annual floods.

  • 18. newcomer  |  November 2, 2014 at 8:14 am

    As far as public governance is concerned The Old Gaol has been a Vale responsibility and one they seem to have carried out with a fair amount of incompetence. It seems now that their original due diligence wasn’t up to scratch when it came to appointing a company who would finish the project, pay the purchase price and provide the promised community facilities in the expected/reasonable time-frame. In addition I have a vague memory that the developer has been let off the hook re. public access and provision of social housing.

    I’m sure The Vale would like to wash its hands of the project (in the gold looted, once more, from Abingdon), but we have memories and those memories don’t fill us with much confidence in them fulfilling any project in Abingdon in a professional manner. Heaven knows what a c**k up they’ll manage of the Abbey Grounds.

    However, I’m sure that everything looks hunky-dory to The Vale when it views Abingdon from its new palace in far away Crowmarsh Gifford nestling in the heart of South Oxfordshire.

  • 19. Steve  |  November 3, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Take a look at what they have done at Henley. Great play area, nice cafe too. I would suggest an bigger play area, also things for older kids. Look at the Headington play area for ideas, plenty there for all ages, Revamp the crazy golf and the tennis courts. loose the pitch and putt and replace with picnic areas/ tables etc.

  • 20. Cassandra  |  November 3, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    For me, I would love it to stay as a lovely Riverside green and open space, not be turned into a mini theme park. Perhaps exisiting facilities could be revamped but it would spoil it (my opinion only!!) to add anything else.

    I am a relatively recent arrival in Abingdon and the riverside and Abbey Gardens/Meadows are just what I imagined the banks of the Thames to be. It is wonderful just to stroll in the relative peace. Incidentally, I wonder why it is assumed that children need even more facilities to keep them entertained….surely the freedom of open spaces to run around is what they need?

    Just a thought since we are on the topic of development in this area…..has there been any news about the sale of the now-vacated council building (Abbey House?). This perhaps will impact on this area?

  • 21. Kelly Simpson  |  November 5, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    I would like to see a fitness trail. Have seen them in other places, with various names, but basically a signed route for walking/running, with various simple fitness apparatus – bars etc – on the route. Could go along the river and round the edge of the Abbey Meadow.

  • 22. Steve  |  November 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Having just driven through Henley today, I meant Marlow ! They have a great play area/ cafe. Fitness trail idea of Kelly’s also sound like a good / cheap idea, and thinking more about it now, if you want to play tennis , go to the Sport centre, so scrap it, not that I’ve ever seen anyone use the courts at Abbey Meadow.

  • 23. Eliza Brown  |  February 26, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Hi all, the consultation is now open.

    Go to to vote on your preferred scenario and which facilities you would like to see there

  • 24. Hanneke van Deth  |  July 13, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    There is little provision for older people to meet “ad hoc” to “play” in the park, like you might see in France or The Netherlands.
    I would like to see a “boules” alley in Abbey Meadows where people can play a game of boules.
    It’s a great activity and opportunity to socialise.

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