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Labour Club sells site for development
DIDCOT’S Labour Club has been sold to make way for major redevelopment opposite the railway station.
The club in Station Road dates back to the 1940s and opened following the closure of a Co-op depot.
But it will call last orders this summer after the freehold to the building was sold to the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency, which is supporting SODC’s plan to improve the area opposite Didcot Parkway.
The district council has been consulting the public on how the “Didcot Island” site opposite the station should be revamped, and one proposal is for a new hotel.
This is linked with the ongoing £6.7m refurbishment of the forecourt of Didcot Parkway, and phase two of the Orchard shopping centre, which is expected to open by the end of 2014.
The consultation follows Milton Park and Harwell Oxford being chosen as one of 10 new Enterprise Zones, which could create 8,400 jobs by 2015.
Club secretary Annie Birchall said about 100 members agreed to sell the club last month but would not reveal the sale price. She said: “It will be a sad day to see the club go because it has been part of so many lives – I had my wedding reception here. But it has been hard to get people through the door in the recession when supermarkets are selling cheap alcohol.
“The club has been sold but the building is being leased back to us until at least the end of June, so we will stay open three nights a week until then and then make a decision about whether we should stay open over the summer.”
Ms Birchall confirmed that members would get a share of the proceeds from the sale of the club. She added: “Some of the members have been coming here for 50 years.”
The Labour leader of Didcot Town Council Margaret Davies said: “The club has been sold to the HCA and will stay open until a decision is taken to demolish the building.
“In due course, members will probably go to the railway staff club across the road. This is the end of an era – my father used to come home from the Labour Club and his dinner was put in front of him, but times have changed.
“The Labour Club is closing but the Labour Party is still strong in Didcot.”
SODC’s Didcot development manager Toby Warren said: “This purchase follows a study commissioned by the council and the HCA into how local growth could be successful.
“This study, which is ongoing, builds on earlier proposals that identified an aspiration locally to improve the site opposite the station, where the club is currently based.
“We share these ambitions, and aim to encourage a comprehensive redevelopment of the site so that a gateway to Didcot and Science Vale UK is created. Partners will be working together to agree a master plan for a redevelopment.”