£3m offer to speed up centre expansion

Ann Ducker

Ann Ducker

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Didcot and Wallingford. Call me on 01865 425425

UP TO £3m is to be set aside by council leaders to speed up the expansion of Didcot’s Orchard shopping centre.

Dozens of new shops, town centre houses and an extension to Sainsbury’s, announced in 2011, were meant to be finished this year.

But the downturn in the economy put the plans on hold and developer Hammerson has not yet submitted a planning application.

Now, Ann Ducker, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, says between £2m and £3m of capital funding will be set aside to help speed up the extension to the shopping centre, which opened in 2005.

She said: “The delay with phase two of the Orchard Centre has been very frustrating but council officers are maintaining a dialogue with Hammerson all the time.

“In next month’s budget meeting we plan to include £2m to £3m of capital funding and hope this will be a way of encouraging and reassuring the developers that we are committed to this scheme.

“This is what other councils do when they are regenerating sites. We can’t say yet precisely what the money would be spent on.”

The £50m first phase of the Orchard Centre included the Cornerstone Arts Centre, Cineworld cinema, and dozens of new shops.

Mrs Ducker added: “The economy is improving and I think the climate is now right for a planning application to be submitted. I hope that will happen before the end of 2014.”

Some of the capital funding could be used to help with the relocation of firms from Lower Broadway, where the shopping centre extension will be built.

Didcot Chamber of Commerce member Jeanette Howse said: “The economy is picking up and the Orchard Centre is doing well.

“Hopefully a planning application for phase two will happen soon.”

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No one from Hammerson was available for comment.

Comments (2)

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2:24pm Fri 10 Jan 14

TransitionTowns says...

Why are we letting a developer dictate the change and growth of development in Didcot? Its quite sad that Hammerson seems to have more control over what happens in Didcot than our very own SODC.... Surely there are plenty of other developers who would jump at the chance to create phase 2 of the Orchard centre?
Why are we letting a developer dictate the change and growth of development in Didcot? Its quite sad that Hammerson seems to have more control over what happens in Didcot than our very own SODC.... Surely there are plenty of other developers who would jump at the chance to create phase 2 of the Orchard centre? TransitionTowns
  • Score: -94

10:35pm Sat 11 Jan 14

JWalk says...

I see that hammerson have objected to the new Aldi store plans yet have not commited to phase 2 of the orchard centre.
I see that hammerson have objected to the new Aldi store plans yet have not commited to phase 2 of the orchard centre. JWalk
  • Score: -91

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