Possible new future for Old Abbey House – Thinking Caps On!

The Vale of White Horse District Council have announced they are looking for a possible new future for Old Abbey House. They no longer need Old Abbey House and are looking for a new owner. It could be sold for housing, but they are also in discussions with the Friends of Abingdon Civic Society about community use.

Before closure, the larger part of the building was used by Abingdon Town Council, and the smaller part by Citizens Advice Abingdon.
Old Abbey House
The entrance foyer of the part used by Abingdon Town Council was home to the Abingdon Information Centre.
Old Abbey House
To the left of that was the council committee room.
Old Abbey House
Next to that was a wide wooden staircase, with a stained glass window, leading to four or five offices.
Old Abbey House
Behind the information centre, to the left, was the Mayor’s Parlour with an attractive bow window. The Mayor for 2013-14, Sam Bowring, can be seen entertaining some English Civil War reenactors.

To the right of the information desk were open plan offices, and the muniments room – holding old town documents.

The old citizens advice area had a separate entrance and was also divided into smaller rooms. From the outside that half of the building can be seen to need roof repairs.

Old Abbey House is not a listed building, but is in the heart of Abingdon. Its old garden, the Abbey Gardens, should remain for public use whatever happens. Everybody would be delighted if a viable community scheme comes forward for the building. If we all put our thinking caps on maybe we could come up with something.

8 thoughts on “Possible new future for Old Abbey House – Thinking Caps On!

  1. Sarah Smith

    How about a children’s day nursery? Open from 7am to 7pm and free. The child could start early OR finish late, and the mother would be freed up to do a full day’s work.

    1. CemeteryRdResident

      Why mother and not parents? Thought the age of gender stereotypes on parenting were long gone.

  2. Daniel

    I think it should be sold for housing. However, no matter what price it is sold for it should be possible (and acceptable) for the developer to renegotiate the price downwards after they’ve got what they wanted.

    1. newcomer

      That is so cynical, Daniel … I can’t imagine you could name one precedent for making such a comment!

  3. Hester

    There are lots of people out there who want this to be put to Community use, and lots of ideas for what could go in there. The Friends of Abingdon Civic Society is trying to pull these together into a community bid, but any such bid will have to be realistic and viable. Even if we were given the property for free – or if the Council retained ownership but leased it to a community group – many hundreds of £k would be needed to bring it back into a reasonable state; and then the activities in there would have to bring in enough income to cover running costs.
    This would be a fantastic thing to do, there are lots of examples of similar successful projects around the country, and we believe would be a big step towards revitalising the town centre. However it needs a small and dedicated team to take charge of it and organise the fundraising, legal stuff, surveys, coatings, business plans etc. These people would hopefully become Trustees or Directors and would then co-ordinate the input of all the enthusiastic volunteers who we know are raring to go.
    The Civic Society is delighted that after 6 years we have at last got to the point where the District Council is talking to us about a community bid – we have done lots of the groundwork but now need a few people with the relevant skills to form that dedicated team to take it on from here. We would be delighted to hear via our website from anyone who would be interested.

  4. Backstreeter

    My only idea and I don’t know if it viable was that it could combine flats and managed open access to the more attractive rooms. The information centre could move back to where it was, as they are hidden away currently, and they could manage entry to the other rooms where community groups could hold art exhibitions and displays like the Community Shop / Free Space shop does now.


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