PLANS to create a ‘community hub’ around Abingdon’s Guildhall could see the town’s library move into the Abbey Hall.

Oxfordshire County Council, which runs the library, and Abingdon Town Council, which owns the Guildhall, unveiled this week an agreement to work more closely to join up public services within Abingdon.

As well as the Charter-based library, other county managed services such as the town’s children’s centre could also be on the move as part of a bid to make the ‘best use’ of publicly owned buildings.

It comes after years of uncertainty around the future of the Abbey Hall, which is the 1960s extension to the historic Guildhall, and has lain empty since 2015.

Previous £3.5m plans to install a cafe and projector room failed 12 months ago after being deemed unaffordable, and the council’s most recently published plans for the site did not involve Abbey Hall at all.

Increasingly concerned residents created the Save our Guildhall petition in September, which now has more than 1,700 signatures.

Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, county cabinet member for property, cultural and community services, said: “I want to see the Guildhall once again become a valued and loved community asset for Abingdon.

“There is an opportunity to create a vibrant community hub around the Guildhall, which joins up public services and community uses in this part of the town.”

“We will be looking at all the options with the town council and we would welcome ideas from people locally.

“We would expect the town council as owners of the Guildhall to consult fully with residents before any final decision was taken.”

A joint working group will now be set up to look at the options. No timeframe for the scheme has been revealed.

Town council leader Mike Badcock said: “We welcome the opportunity to work with the county council to secure the long-term future of the Guildhall and provide better community services for the people of Abingdon.

“The town council has looked at all the options but we believe that we can only find a financially sustainable solution by working with other public service organisations.”

Last week, almost 200 concerned residents turned up for a public meeting about the ‘urgent need’ to reopen the Abbey Hall.

There were so many eager to have their say on the future of the building that they could not all fit inside the Roysse Room of the Guildhall, leading to about 60 people being turned away and prompting the town council to hold a second meeting on Monday for those unable to attend.

Plans for a £1m refurbishment of the adjoining Guildhall were approved in June.

Work began this month and is expected to be completed by summer.