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Fresh warnings over retail risk to town centre
6:00am Tuesday 10th December 2013 in News
OUT-of-town retail is “decimating” town centre trade in Abingdon, a former Vale of White Horse district councillor has warned.
A new Giraffe restaurant seating 134 people opened at Tesco on Marcham Road last week.
Fairacres Retail Park also aims to open a B&M store selling food and clothing.
This would go against a deal with Vale of White Horse District Council forbidding sale of food and drink there in order to “ensure the viability of Abingdon town centre”, although the trading estate now features an outlet for food chain Subway.
Former borough and district councillor Mike Matthews, of Oxford Road, said: “Those out-of-town shops have already decimated the town centre.
“Where would you buy an electric light bulb in town these days? We have to encourage people back into the centre.”
The Giraffe restaurant at Tesco, which will employ 50 staff, was given planning permission in October.
Abingdon Town Council leader Sandy Lovatt was not worried about the effect on the town centre. He said: “There has always been a restaurant there. Giraffe has just taken it over.”
In order to open a new B&M home store, Fairacres owners, Mays Properties, have had to apply to Vale of White Horse District Council for a “change of use” at the unit.
The “ancillary ranges” at the shop – food, drink, clothes and cosmetics – would generate an estimated £1.4m a year.
The unit at Fairacres has been empty since Home Store & More closed last year.
Fairacres says B&M is the only firm interested in the unit. Vale council will decide on the plans on December 18.
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