A COUNCIL has been accused of a 'disappointing' lack of progress on plans to create the first council-built homes in in Abingdon in decades.

It has been a year since the then leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, Matthew Barber, announced Old Abbey House would be demolished or renovated to create 'much-needed' social housing.

Speaking at last week's full council meeting, councillor Helen Pighills asked for an update and when residents could expect a planning application to be submitted for the 18th century building, which used to be council offices.

Councillor Ed Blagrove, reading out an answer on behalf of councillor Mike Murray, Cabinet member for development and regeneration, who was not present, said officers were still 'exploring the potential' for conversion or redevelopment of the building.

He added: “Old Abbey House sits in a much valued and sensitive location, and opportunities are being carefully considered in the context of these and other constraints in respect of conversion or sensitive redevelopment of the site.

“In support of this, discussions have taken place with relevant officers with regards to site constraints and how it could be appropriately brought forward for this use.

“It is important that this process is properly carried out to ensure that any future planning application carries the best prospects for the successful future development or refurbishment of Old Abbey House.”

Ms Pighills called the answer 'disappointing' and added she thought the announcement had been 'premature' given the lack of progress.

She said: "It was made shortly after the government said it would provide funding for social housing but things have been very quiet since then.

"I want to know if any other sites in the town have been considered."

At last year's Conservative Party conference the Prime Minister said local authorities would be able to bid for a share of an extra £2 billion for affordable housing.

The Vale scheme is set to use financial contributions from other housing developments including the nearby Old Gaol, which developer Cranbourne turned into luxury flats and three restaurant units in 2015.

However, many in the town wanted to see the space maintained as a community space, with an arts centre one of many ideas proposed when the offices were first vacated in 2014.

But Old Abbey House went on the open market in June 2015 after no groups came forward to take on the 200-year-old building, which was once connected with Abingdon’s medieval abbey.