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Hotel idea for historic town building
A HISTORIC building next to an Abingdon park should be turned into a hotel, according to councillors.
Vale of White Horse District Council is selling Old Abbey House, former home of Abingdon Town Council, for between £600,000 and £1m.
Town councillors have said the 15th century house could be used by a business but should not be turned into housing.
But the Vale council has warned that it has a public duty to get the most money possible for the asset.
Vale council leader Matthew Barber said: “Legally we have to give best consideration for anything we sell.
“If there is a £500,000 difference between one offer and another, it would be very difficult to justify to the public going for the cheaper one.”
The Vale is selling the building through Savills, which has now extended the original April 16 deadline, to allow buyers more time to put bids together. Mr Barber said Savills had been approached by one applicant who wanted to run an arts centre in the building, but they had not made a formal offer.
Mr Barber added: “A hotel development would be quite popular and good for the economy.”
Money from the sale of Old Abbey House will go into the Vale of White Horse capital projects programme.
Town councillor Iain Littlejohn said: “I would disappointed to see it developed for flats, that would be a shame.
“I want to see a beautiful building like that retain its public access. A hotel would be a very good use.”
He said the Vale “absolutely” had a choice about who it sells the building to, and said: “It is the council’s duty to do what is best by the taxpayer. A hotel would be an attractive use, but not the only one I could see working.”
Town councillor and chairman of the Vale Mike Badcock said: “There is a lovely garden at the back which needs to be protected, but I suspect if it comes down to getting the best value, the Vale may not have a lot of choice.
“I would like to see the building itself protected, it would be a great shame to lose it.
“I would have thought it would make a wonderful HQ for a firm of architects.”
Abingdon Town Council still meets in Old Abbey House but is in the process of moving to the Guildhall, where there are plans for a revamp including a cinema.
The town council’s archivist Jackie Smith said she was “quite concerned” about the historic building passing out of public ownership.
She said: “I would like to know its future was secure to remain as a building.
“Architecturally it’s not worth listing, its main interest is the connection with the Abbey and the fact it is in the town conservation area.”
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