BOARDED-UP shops in Abingdon’s new £4.5m shopping precinct are still empty seven months after the revamp.

And developer NewRiver has revealed it turned down offers for businesses to move into the shops.

Instead it says it is holding out for the right kind of businesses to move in – fashion stores and restaurants.

The redeveloped Abbey precinct was completed on December 21 last year after nine months of building work.

But with the precinct now six months old, the number of empty shops has led to widespread criticism in the town.

Abingdon resident David Thomas, 61, from Overmead, said: “I’ve lived here for 43 years – my wife was born and bred here – and we have been quite disgusted by the amount of empty shops in the town.”

Around seven of the units in the new precinct are empty – including the two large new key units.

And Abingdon News Plus, an independent newsagent in the precinct shut on February 23 because owner Peter Wiblin said the revamp drove customers away and left him unable to afford rent.

A bakery is now set to open in the premises.

NewRiver says it is in negotiations with three well-known national chain fashion retailers to open in the two larger empty shops.

The only two clothes shops in the precinct are New Look and Dorothy Perkins.

New Look is set to be the first to move into one of the two larger shops from a smaller store on the other side of the precinct but it still leaves the same number of empty shops.

NewRiver is also in discussion with two restaurant chains to open in other empty premises, but would not say which ones.

Property director Allan Lockhart said: “I know people may be very frustrated and might like to see the shops let by now but we are holding out to get the right shops.

“We are keen to widen the fashion offer within the centre. “We always envisioned increasing the fashion offer and we are not prepared to compromise on that, and if it takes a few more months it is worth the wait.

“These things do take a little bit of time and I know there is a little bit of frustration.”

Leader of Abingdon Town Council, Sandy Lovatt, said: “It does rather annoy me because unless you start the ball rolling you never get started at all.

“The town desperately needs these to be filled.”

Scottish Widows Investment Partnership owns the precinct and contracted the revamp out to NewRiver.