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Wetherspoon plans a pub in old post office

Abingdon Chamber of Commerce president Paul Townsend outside the town’s former post office

Abingdon Chamber of Commerce president Paul Townsend outside the town’s former post office

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

PUB giant JD Wetherspoon is preparing to invest more than £1m to open a new bar in Abingdon town centre.

The chain has filed a planning application to convert the old Post Office in the High Street, but it could not tell the Oxford Mail when it could open.

However, Hilary Collis, landlady at the Blue Boar, in Bath Street, said many landlords would not be able to compete with Wetherspoon’s low prices.

She said: “For the pubs it will be disastrous, but for the town it’s good.

“We have enough pubs closing and we don’t need more. It’s definitely going to close off some pubs.”

The Nags Head, in Bridge Street, is currently shut and the Ox Inn in Oxford Road and the Fitzharris Arms in Thornhill Walk were converted into Tesco Express supermarkets last year.

Stratton’s nightclub in the town centre closed last month.

But Paul Vanstone, landlord at the Midget, in Midget Close, and chairman of Abingdon Pub Watch, said a Wetherspoon pub could be good for Abingdon.

He said: “I think town centre pubs will be against it, as Wetherspoon sells cheap beer.

“But with the nightclub closing, the town has died. It might bring a bit of life back into the town centre. I think it’s probably a good thing, but whether they get it is another matter.

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“But it’s been a derelict building for quite some time. It can only do the town good and stop people leaving.”

Paul Townsend, Abingdon Chamber of Commerce’s president, said: “It has got to be good that somebody is going to invest in the town and that building is looking awful. It will make the place look nicer.

“We have lost quite a lot of pubs over the past few years, so it will probably fill the void left.

“It could bring a lot of people back into the area.”

JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We believe that a Wetherspoon pub will be an asset to Abingdon and encourage more people into the town, as well as new investment.

“Our style of pub is very popular with people of all ages and we believe that it will have a positive effect on the town.”

When asked about the theme of the pub, he said: “The fact that it was a former post office might well be reflected in the pub’s name and also in some of the displays in the pub.”

He added: “The fact that planning has gone in is a very positive step in the right direction and the company awaits the outcome of the planning decision.”

The Post Office moved to the Co-op, in West St Helen Street, in January 2009, after more than a century in the High Street.

Vale of White Horse District Council hopes to make a decision on the application to change to the use of the building next month.

Although the firm has not applied for an alcohol licence yet, Mr Gershon said Wetherspoon pubs were usually open from 8am until midnight, with some opening until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Nine years ago the company lost a controversial battle to open a pub at the town’s former Congregational Church, in Pulpit House, which is now an Ask pizza restaurant.

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