The former Premier Inn and Ock Mill restaurant has been bought by a school so it can double in size in the next few years.

The hotel chain opened a new 86-bedroom hotel in Marcham Road in Abingdon in September.

Its original Premier Inn and restaurant a short distance away in the same road closed earlier this year but initially it was not known what the buildings would be used for.

READ MORE: New Premier Inn now welcoming guests

Now the Unicorn School, where staff teach dyslexic pupils, has revealed it has bought the old buildings across the road from its Marcham Road site.

The purchase from Whitbread PLC, the parent company of the Premier Inn chain, will allow The Unicorn School to double its pupil numbers from 120 to 240 over the next few years.

The school has specialised for over 30 years helping children with neurodiversity challenges, including dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism and speech and language issues.

Oxford Mail: Alexandra FosterActing headteacher Alexandra Foster said: "This is a huge day for The Unicorn - the location could not be better for us being opposite our existing building.

"The demand for places has risen dramatically over the past few years and school absence due to anxiety, often related to neurodiversity issues, has risen from 4.7 per cent nationally to 7.5 per cent last year.

"The small classes, exceptional pastoral care, and one-to-one teaching that our pupils get as part of our curriculum significantly contributes to our children achieving their true potential and often gaining excellent GCSE results.”

READ MORE: Botley Road latest phase completed 

The Unicorn currently accepts children aged between seven and 16 and they hope with the new building they will be able to offer a sixth form facility in due course.

Whitbread officially closed its Premier Inn hotel and Ock Mill Beefeater restaurant on September 8, the same day it opened a brand new and much larger hotel a few hundred metres away.

Oxford Mail: Pupils at The Unicorn SchoolThe new Premier Inn hotel offers 86 Premier Inn bedrooms and a guest lounge in an accessible location next to the A34's Marcham Interchange.

Richard Pearson, senior development manager, for Whitbread, said: “Selling the Ock Mill site to The Unicorn School closes a positive story for us in Abingdon

"Recognising that we outgrew the original site enabled us to deliver a brand new Premier Inn for our customers in a great location next to the A34, at the same time as creating an opportunity for The Unicorn School to help more young people.

"I wish Alexandra and the team all the very best with their planning application for the site.”

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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