Oxford MailFears building work will deter shoppers (From Oxford Mail)

Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us

Fears building work will deter shoppers

Oxford Mail: Ian Collett of The Bookstore in Abingdon where work is starting to revamp the shopping precinct Ian Collett of The Bookstore in Abingdon where work is starting to revamp the shopping precinct

SHOPKEEPERS in Abingdon’s precinct have warned some traders might not survive to see the centre’s £4m redevelopment completed.

Scaffolding and hoarding went up around Abbey Shopping Centre last month and work will not finish until the autumn.

And shop owners fear the building works will deter shoppers from coming to the precinct and traders will lose vital custom.

Yesterday some said they would try to claim reductions in business rates from Government and rent reductions from site owners the Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP).

Abingdon Chamber of Commerce member Peter Wiblin, who owns Abingdon News Plus in the precinct, urged traders to start measuring footfall and sales to back any claim.

He said: “It is absolutely necessary, we will lose sales. It’s a building site at the moment.

“It’s going to affect business and if they are not careful we could lose a few more shops.”

There have been plans to redevelop the 1960s shopping centre for more than 20 years and work is expected to finish before Christmas.

The revamp will see five units make way for two large two-storey shops, the pavement resurfaced, the canopies removed, and pitched roofs added.

Ian Collett, owner of The Bookstore, said he would apply for the reductions and also urged residents to keep shopping in the precinct.

He said: “We are all aware that this work desperately needs doing. It’s long overdue, the town is desperate for it.

“We almost have to put up with what is going to happen. I don’t think there is an alternative.

“But this is coming at a time when we are still in recession.

“And there is a possibility not everyone will get through it which means we could end up with a very pretty looking precinct but nowhere to go shopping.”

Related links

He added: “If it isn’t done Abingdon will die on its feet but someone needs to assist the retailers while it’s being done.”

SWIP was handed planning permission for the scheme in December and it had hoped to begin work in February but legal complications delayed the start.

Spokesman Martin Hughes said: “The number one objective is to see a revitalised and improved town centre in the long term. Unfortunately, that cannot be achieved without some short term disruption.

“Scottish Widows has already instructed a specialist firm to seek a business rates reduction for all its tenants and are monitoring trade in the centre.

“There is also a willingness to listen to any matters of concern that tenants may have about the impact of works on their business.”

He added: “The investment being committed to improve Abingdon town centre is substantial and is aimed at creating an environment where all local retailers and businesses can prosper.

“It is positive action to stem recent decline and put the town centre back on a stronger footing.”

SWIP’s development manager NewRiver is now working on the second phase of the total £53m investment which will see the Charter area redeveloped.

Comments (13)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

1:26pm Wed 2 May 12

colbart says...

Redevelop Charter??, I thought it was demolition of The Charter to make way for a Supermarket?.
Redevelop Charter??, I thought it was demolition of The Charter to make way for a Supermarket?. colbart
  • Score: 0

3:39pm Wed 2 May 12

Inkpot says...

The supermarket IS part 2 of the redevelopment of the charter, you obviously didn't take any notice of the plans when they were published!!!!

Abingdon town centre is dead at the moment, so the work w'ont make that much difference.
The supermarket IS part 2 of the redevelopment of the charter, you obviously didn't take any notice of the plans when they were published!!!! Abingdon town centre is dead at the moment, so the work w'ont make that much difference. Inkpot
  • Score: 0

8:42pm Wed 2 May 12

wizardofox2 says...

I can certainly see where Mr Collett and his fellow traders are coming from but I can't help but think they " the traders" have brought some of this on themselves, they'll get little public support demanding a rate rebate, it's not central governments fault they're in this situation, responsibilty rests entirely with Scottish Widow and the Vale of White Horse DC and its they that traders should be looking to for compensation by way of rent, not rate, reductions, but if they are naive enough to yet again let the Vale and SW run rough shod over them, then they'll get little public support. Why isn't the Chamber of Commerce making objections (but historicaly they dont/wont rock the boat as far as councill is concerned, the introduction of Abits was a classic example of a Chamber that would rather get into bed with those in Abbey Close than its members) They'rs a site office in the precinct, the traders should collectively descend on it and demand that only one side at a time should revamped and at the same time demand a 50% rent reduction!
I can certainly see where Mr Collett and his fellow traders are coming from but I can't help but think they " the traders" have brought some of this on themselves, they'll get little public support demanding a rate rebate, it's not central governments fault they're in this situation, responsibilty rests entirely with Scottish Widow and the Vale of White Horse DC and its they that traders should be looking to for compensation by way of rent, not rate, reductions, but if they are naive enough to yet again let the Vale and SW run rough shod over them, then they'll get little public support. Why isn't the Chamber of Commerce making objections (but historicaly they dont/wont rock the boat as far as councill is concerned, the introduction of Abits was a classic example of a Chamber that would rather get into bed with those in Abbey Close than its members) They'rs a site office in the precinct, the traders should collectively descend on it and demand that only one side at a time should revamped and at the same time demand a 50% rent reduction! wizardofox2
  • Score: 0

9:36pm Wed 2 May 12

LORD PETER MACVEY 0X2 6EG says...

I thought that everybody was crying out for a facelift in Abingdon to compete with out of town stores, now that it is happening they complain. What do they (the traders) expect, an overnight building miracle?
I thought that everybody was crying out for a facelift in Abingdon to compete with out of town stores, now that it is happening they complain. What do they (the traders) expect, an overnight building miracle? LORD PETER MACVEY 0X2 6EG
  • Score: 0

10:19pm Wed 2 May 12

AbingdonKing says...

This refit has been planned since 1992 & while in an ideal world each side would be done seperatly this would cause much more disruption for longer than the few months planned.
As for the comment regarding the Chamber of Commerce, I do not see what they could do or if they should get involved. This is a commercial development by Scottish Widows, they own the lease on the precinct & they will obviously want to make it as attractable as possible as quickly & cheaply as possible to make them the most money. The traders knew this work was approaching, they wanted it & now are moaning. If their businesses are worth visiting, then people will visit.
This refit has been planned since 1992 & while in an ideal world each side would be done seperatly this would cause much more disruption for longer than the few months planned. As for the comment regarding the Chamber of Commerce, I do not see what they could do or if they should get involved. This is a commercial development by Scottish Widows, they own the lease on the precinct & they will obviously want to make it as attractable as possible as quickly & cheaply as possible to make them the most money. The traders knew this work was approaching, they wanted it & now are moaning. If their businesses are worth visiting, then people will visit. AbingdonKing
  • Score: 0

8:05am Thu 3 May 12

Cabbers says...

A few bits of scaffolding doesn't really stop people shopping. It's not like anyone comes for the beauty of the precinct at the moment.

What concerns me is the state of the fencing and seeing two elderly people being treated my ambulances on separate occasions on Saturday after tripping over poorly marked scaffold and fence supports. I do hope the poor gent with the bleeding head wound was ok.

Now that is far more likely to deter shoppers.
A few bits of scaffolding doesn't really stop people shopping. It's not like anyone comes for the beauty of the precinct at the moment. What concerns me is the state of the fencing and seeing two elderly people being treated my ambulances on separate occasions on Saturday after tripping over poorly marked scaffold and fence supports. I do hope the poor gent with the bleeding head wound was ok. Now that is far more likely to deter shoppers. Cabbers
  • Score: 0

8:30am Thu 3 May 12

Major Oxford says...

Pete is right perhaps harry potter can turn up on his broomstick and make abingdon a desirable shopping place overnight the shops are terrible the place is an embaressment
Pete is right perhaps harry potter can turn up on his broomstick and make abingdon a desirable shopping place overnight the shops are terrible the place is an embaressment Major Oxford
  • Score: 0

9:42am Thu 3 May 12

colbart says...

Exactly the opposite InkPot, I know many people who use the Charters Daycentre, they have recently been moved from the Market Place, (when they were moved from Abbey Place, Audlet Drive), now it looks like they will be moved again. It still is not clear where the Doctors Surgery Library and Day Centre will be moved to.

Many rumours, but nothing in writing. I have seen the plans for both versions of Supermarket (one with underground car park, taking up a larger area. and which Supermarket is moving in. (Plans for John Lewis or Retail rejected).
Exactly the opposite InkPot, I know many people who use the Charters Daycentre, they have recently been moved from the Market Place, (when they were moved from Abbey Place, Audlet Drive), now it looks like they will be moved again. It still is not clear where the Doctors Surgery Library and Day Centre will be moved to. Many rumours, but nothing in writing. I have seen the plans for both versions of Supermarket (one with underground car park, taking up a larger area. and which Supermarket is moving in. (Plans for John Lewis or Retail rejected). colbart
  • Score: 0

11:02am Thu 3 May 12

Lady Penelopee says...

Fact: The current precinct is UGLY, so shoppers are hardly shopping there because of the way it looks, so I very much doubt some scaffolding will put punters off!
Fact: The current precinct is UGLY, so shoppers are hardly shopping there because of the way it looks, so I very much doubt some scaffolding will put punters off! Lady Penelopee
  • Score: 0

8:33am Fri 4 May 12

colbart says...

Last time I was there, the wooden boards were going up in front of the scaffolding, I am interested when they start demolishing the few units to be replaced, whilst not damaging the surrounding buildings....

That was a Health and Safety issue raised by Boots, dust/noise and debris.....I believe.
Last time I was there, the wooden boards were going up in front of the scaffolding, I am interested when they start demolishing the few units to be replaced, whilst not damaging the surrounding buildings.... That was a Health and Safety issue raised by Boots, dust/noise and debris.....I believe. colbart
  • Score: 0

8:43am Fri 4 May 12

colbart says...

Reading all the different plans/reports (which must have cost a fortune), they all focus on the Shops. and making "An anchor store" in Abingdon.

They seem to have put the other facilities on the back burner. People don't go to Abingdon just to shop, The Library, GP surgery, the daycentres (currently used by 'disabled' adult groups), there has been nothing positive about their future. I know a lot of money was invested in 2011 to refurbish the Day Centre (when the Aged Users were moved to Abbey Place Audlet Drive), and the GP surgery moved onto the ground floor. These are now to be demolished??. I am all for promoting Abingdon, but not making a sacrifice to the 'God of Commerce'.
Reading all the different plans/reports (which must have cost a fortune), they all focus on the Shops. and making "An anchor store" in Abingdon. They seem to have put the other facilities on the back burner. People don't go to Abingdon just to shop, The Library, GP surgery, the daycentres (currently used by 'disabled' adult groups), there has been nothing positive about their future. I know a lot of money was invested in 2011 to refurbish the Day Centre (when the Aged Users were moved to Abbey Place Audlet Drive), and the GP surgery moved onto the ground floor. These are now to be demolished??. I am all for promoting Abingdon, but not making a sacrifice to the 'God of Commerce'. colbart
  • Score: 0

10:14am Fri 4 May 12

wizardofox2 says...

Quite correct colbart and even if Abingdon ended up with an anchor store you still couldn't get into the town, councils have made it clear they don't want cars in Abingdon, but they seem to foreget that cars bring people and poeple bring prosperity !
Quite correct colbart and even if Abingdon ended up with an anchor store you still couldn't get into the town, councils have made it clear they don't want cars in Abingdon, but they seem to foreget that cars bring people and poeple bring prosperity ! wizardofox2
  • Score: 0

5:57pm Sat 5 May 12

orangefoot says...

Wizard - Free parking for two hours is hardly a sign that cars aren't welcome in Abingdon is it? Did you miss all the bright yellow signs in the car parks or are you dissing Abingdon without being a regular visitor?
Wizard - Free parking for two hours is hardly a sign that cars aren't welcome in Abingdon is it? Did you miss all the bright yellow signs in the car parks or are you dissing Abingdon without being a regular visitor? orangefoot
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree