CONTROVERSIAL plans for the future of Abingdon's Old Gaol which involve converting restaurant space into flats and create a new wine bar will finally be decided this week.

Developer Cranbourne, which purchased the Bridge Street building from Vale of White Horse District Council in 2007, submitted an application to the authority in February to divide the largest of three restaurant units - converting half into three additional flats and using the money from their sale to fund a new cafe/wine bar in the remaining space.

It comes after years spent struggling to shift the units, only one of which has been leased, despite 61 luxury flats in the same complex being snapped up before they were even completed.

The matter was originally set to be decided by April but was called in by councillors Sandy Lovatt and Helen Pighills and will now be voted on by the district council's planning committee on Wednesday.

Opinion on the riverside development's latest application has seen opinion divided with Abingdon Town Council submitting an official objection, citing concerns over the size of the new flats and affordable housing.

Residents who already live in the flats, however, have submitted a raft of signatures confirming their 'full support' for the plans via Alan Waddon, chairman of the Old Gaol Residents Management Committee.

Earlier this year the company also asked to almost double the time allowed to pay off a £1m affordable housing contribution for the site because of struggles filling the empty units.

Controversy dates all the way back to the 2007 sale by Vale. The authority originally valued the site at £6.3m but later revealed it had settled for just over half that – £3.2m – after the global recession in 2008.