SHOPPERS have given their support to Didcot's revamped Orchard Centre a year since its expansion was completed. 

Readers have been sharing their thoughts on the first year of operation at the new centre on the Oxford Mail's website. 

Despite empty units remaining and frustrations with short stay parking limits, some claimed they feel the centre is now 'better than the Westgate' in Oxford. 

Oxford Mail:

In a poll completed by more than 1,000 people, the majority (65 per cent) said they felt the expansion had been a success. 

But 25 per cent of these said they felt people should use it more.

Of the 35 per cent of people who didn't feel it had been a success, 25 per cent felt it was because of the empty units.  

When first conceived, the shopping centre was intended to allow people to shop more locally, rather than travelling to Oxford or Reading, and it was hoped it would attract people from surrounding towns and villages. 

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In the poll 40 per cent of readers said they visited the centre weekly since it expanded and 25 per cent said they had been monthly. 

But 27 per cent said they had only been a couple of times in the last year and eight per cent said they had never been. 

On Facebook several shoppers said they felt the revamped centre was better than Oxford's Westgate.

Oxford Mail:

One woman said it was a 'much more enjoyable' place to visit while another said she preferred to shop in Didcot now as it has 'everything she needs.'

Readers have also been having their say on what shops they would like to see fill the empty units. 

Of those who voted, 40 per cent said they wanted more independent retailers to move in to add to the centre's Etsy store while 30 per cent said they would prefer to see more clothing shops. 

In contrast only three per cent felt the centre needed another supermarket while 14 per cent called for a fast food chain. 

There have been several calls for a sports shop while other suggestions included a Primark and a Wetherspoon's pub.

READ AGAIN: Orchard Centre celebrates year since expansion completed

Commenters were united in calls to change the parking situation at the centre with the four hour limits in place continuing to come in for criticism. 

Shoppers have complained about being caught out with fines if they want to stay for a day of shopping or visit the cinema. 

Didcot Town Council wrote to Hammerson in January in an attempt to get the rules changed. 

At the time, managers said they would take the comments on board but have, as yet, not agreed to extensions.

Oxford Mail:

Andrew Berger-North, Director UK Retail Parks, said: “Since March last year, the line up at the Orchard Centre has continued to grow along with its reputation as a popular retail and leisure destination in the region.

"We achieved a Hammerson portfolio first in the signing of JoJo Maman Bébé, alongside the opening of Snap Fitness, a successful Etsy pop-up, and a fantastic offer that ranges from national restaurants, including Kaspa’s, to a locally owned, independent business, Feather & Nest.

"We are pleased that customers enjoy the Orchard Centre and we love to receive customer feedback as it helps us to continually improve our offer. We look forward to announcing further additions to the town centre in due course.”