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Traders' festive fear over precinct project delays

Abingdon Chamber of Commerce president Paul Townsend by some of the units which are to be redeveloped

Abingdon Chamber of Commerce president Paul Townsend by some of the units which are to be redeveloped

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

REDEVELOPMENT of Abingdon’s 1960s shopping precinct has been delayed by two weeks, prompting fears it will not be completed in time to cash in on the Christmas rush.

Scottish Widows Investment Partnership aimed to start construction work in the Abbey Shopping Centre this month and finish by the end of October.

But legal complications have delayed the start.

Now traders want reassurances it will be open for the festive shopping period.

Work will see five units make way for two large two-storey shops, canopies removed and pitched roofs added.

Abingdon Chamber of Commerce president Paul Townsend said: “A lot of traders rely on Christmas. It is a time we don’t want to be putting off shoppers with a lot of building work going on.”

He said nine units were now sitting empty.

He added: “They need to just get on with it. The earlier they start then the earlier they finish and we need six weeks before Christmas to trade.”

Peter Wiblin, owner of West End Newsagents in the precinct, said the delay was frustrating.

He said: “They have fallen at the first hurdle. It is a great disappointment.”

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Abingdon Town Council leader Sandy Lovatt said: “I think the Vale council should be putting some pressure on to get these contracts signed.”

Plans for the redevelopment were approved in December by Vale of White Horse District Council.

Council leader Matthew Barber said: “We do not have any direct power but we are doing everything we can to move things along.”

Martin Hughes, spokesman for the developer, said it was a complex process but the development was on track to be finished by Christmas.

He said: “There is no reason to believe it shouldn’t be. It’s not hugely behind.”

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