The future of a derelict hotel in Abingdon remains undecided eight years after its last guests checked out.

The Upper Reaches Hotel, off Thames Street next to Abingdon Bridge, closed in 2015.

The freehold of the site is owned by Vale of White Horse District Council and the site is in the Abingdon Conservation Area.

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The area occupied by the hotel buildings and its immediate surroundings is on a 125-year lease from 1969.

Since 2004 the lease has been held by Contemporary Hotels.

The company, run by Ambar Paul, closed the hotel in June 2015 and since then there have been numerous incidents of vandalism and antisocial behaviour.

The site remains boarded up, and residents who live in Thames Street and other neighbouring streets are frustrated by the lack of progress.

Oxford Mail: The Upper Reaches hotelIt is understood the owner would consider a new hotel on the site, plus some houses, or a care home.

Daryl Jones, of local residents' group ASTRA, said: "It's so frustrating.

"The site is becoming more overgrown and the more green it becomes the more pleasant it looks. But youths have broken into the hotel over the years and it's not great to have this on your doorstep.

"We want the place to be thriving - something useful for the community - in theory I don't think the residents would be against a care home.

"I sympathise with the council because as owners they are stuck with this long lease arrangement but progress does need to be made for the benefit of the town and we hope the council and the owner will hold talks in 2024."

Oxford Mail: Hester Hand, chairwoman of Friends of Abingdon Civic Society, said the group was keen for progress and added that members have been in touch with Mr Paul to try to achieve this.

"It is an eyesore - the last actual plan to be discussed was a combination of a different hotel and some housing," said Ms Hand.

"Any new scheme would need planning permission and the Neighbourhood Plan and Central Abingdon Regeneration Framework would need to be taken into account.

"Mr Paul will need to get pre-application advice.

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"We think the owner wants to build lots of houses or possibly a care home.

"We would like the area to be accessible to the public and used for a theatre, a conference facility or a good hotel overlooking the river."

Oxford Mail: The Upper Reaches hotelA spokeswoman for Vale of White Horse District Council said: "The council continues to discuss The Upper Reaches with the current tenant, Contemporary Hotels Limited, and to encourage them to come forward with plans for the site.

“In addition, in February 2023, we published a study to look at potential redevelopment options in Abingdon (known as the Central Abingdon Regeneration Framework), which encompassed key properties owned by the Vale council, including Upper Reaches, and this sets out the council’s aspirations.

“Whilst we continue to do everything we can, it is important to note that The Upper Reaches site is leased out on a 125-year ground lease, which started in March 1969.

"Under the terms of the lease, the tenant as occupier is responsible for how the property is utilised, as well as being responsible for the upkeep of the fabric of the building and the wider site.”

Mr Paul said he would speak to the Oxford Mail in the near future.

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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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