Plans to demolish warehouses once used by the Abingdon factory to manufacture MG cars have been defended for plans to build almost 100 homes on the site.
Tony Lawson, of XLB Property, said companies using the units would have the option of moving to neighboring Abingdon Business Park after concerns were raised that jobs could be lost. And he added that he was “happy to consider” incorporating a memorial to the MG car company in the plans for the 93 flats and houses on the site of the eight warehouses off Colwell Drive – behind a McDonald’s restaurant on Marcham Road.
Local residents are raising concerns that the buildings are one of the last links to the history of MG car manufacturing which was so important to the town for decades. XLB Property and Rockspring, the joint owners of Abingdon Business Park, have submitted an outline planning application for the scheme to Vale of White Horse District Council.
XLB’s Mr Lawson said:
When we bought the site it was about 40 per cent vacant. Over the past months, we have spent millions renovating it and we have been quite successful. We have halved the vacancy rate, which is now at 20 per cent. The problem with those units is that they are very old and unfortunately very uneconomical to repair. And we have got enough business space on the park, there are more opportunities to accommodate them elsewhere.
UK Mail and Howden’s Joinery operate from some of the warehouses, while others remained vacant.
Mr Lawson said that although marking MG’s history on the site was a possibility, he had not been contacted by the Abingdon-based MG Car Club. Oddly, MG Car Club spokesman Chris Kynoch declined to comment when asked about the plans.
Abingdon resident Alastair Fear, who runs the website Abingdon Blog, said people are worried about the housing plan creating extra traffic as well as its possible effect on jobs. “Marcham Road is already a bottleneck, and adding more houses next to that roundabout could have a detrimental effect. And will the businesses be moving out of Abingdon? We want to keep some jobs in Abingdon.”
The company’s proposals for the site include 12 four-bedroom houses, 22 three-bedroom houses, 43 two-bedroom flats and 16 one-bedroom flats. Of these homes, 35 percent would be affordable.