A PETITION to bring a derelict hotel back into use has launched after people living in the area became ashamed of the “eyesore”.

Friends of Abingdon Civic Society started the petition to bring the Upper Reaches site in Abingdon back into public use on Friday March 11 and already it has gained more than 1,600 signatures.

The Upper Reaches Hotel was once a popular riverside venue, but in June 2015 this came to an end when the leaseholder, Contemporary Hotels Ltd closed the venue without warning.

Since the site has become derelict and a hotspot for vandalism making life a misery for residents in the area.

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The Vale of White Horse District Council, which owns the freehold, says that the lease has over 70 years to run, and they have no powers to force the leaseholder to take any action or to relinquish the lease.

The petition calls for the district council and Contemporary Hotels Ltd to “resolve the current impasse” and bring the site back into use as one of the “jewels in the town’s crown”.

Chair of Friends of Abingdon Civic Society, Hester Hand, is pleased with the number of signatures on the petition and said she will keep pushing the council to do something with the site.

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She said: “We haven’t got specific ideas for the site, we want it to be something everybody can use. We launched the petition to get the two bodies out of this deadlock.”

However, recently the district council announced a regeneration of Abingdon is underway and aspects of the town that have seen better days could be revitalised.

The regeneration project focuses on the Charter area and car park, Abbey House and also Upper Reaches Hotel.

The feedback from the community, along with the findings of the Neighbourhood Plan group’s public engagement, will shape a document the district council will publish later this year, which will identify what future improvements are needed in the town for when an opportunity presents itself and to direct future decisions to support the vision for central Abingdon.

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A spokesperson from Vale of White Horse District Council said: "The lease has over 70 years to run and the council has limited ability, as landlord, to influence the leaseholder. As in any contractual arrangement all parties need to be in agreement to make any change to the terms of that agreement. Discussions are ongoing with the leaseholder.

"Running in parallel, the council is taking forward work on the Central Abingdon Regeneration Framework which the council hopes will encourage landowners / investors to bring forward future development opportunities in the central areas. The framework will relate to a number of properties in the study area, including the Upper Reaches Hotel."

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