'Station site needs a hotel instead of flats'

Herald Series: Ann Ducker Ann Ducker

COUNCIL bosses are urging developers to ditch plans for more than 70 flats opposite Didcot Parkway Station so a hotel can be built there instead.

South Oxfordshire District Council leader Ann Ducker said officers were working on a ‘masterplan’ for the redevelopment of the site opposite Didcot Parkway so that it can be a new gateway to the town centre and the revamped Orchard Centre.

A key building block of the council’s masterplan for the so-called Didcot Island site is a hotel.

The council wants it to be built opposite the station, where the now demolished Great Western Hotel used to stand.

But Abingdon-based Cranbourne Homes, which has planning permission for apartments on the Station Road site, says no agreement has yet been reached over the hotel proposal, and pledged to press ahead with the flats.

A spokesman said: “We got planning permission for 72 apartments about 18 months ago and we are in the process of getting the planning conditions released.

“Then we will look to start the scheme next year.

“There have been discussions with SODC about the hotel but they have not got anywhere so far.”

Mrs Ducker said:“We are trying to get various landowners to understand what we want to achieve and a hotel would be the best way of achieving a welcoming effect to Didcot and a new entrance to the town.

“Cranbourne Homes put forward its application for the new homes over a year ago but we are talking to them because we want them to build a hotel there instead.

“The developers have the upper hand and they are doing what you would expect them to do, which is keep their application alive, but we hope they can be persuaded to work with us.

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“A few flats could be built but there is not room for a hotel and 72 flats and we believe the land opposite the station is the right place for a hotel. A masterplan needs to be in place as soon as possible, with everyone’s agreement.”

Didcot Town Council leader Margaret Davies said: “Didcot has lots of flats but it does not have a hotel and I would be very disappointed if a lack of energy and negotiating meant that a hotel was not built.”

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