Major boost for Didcot as Orchard Centre £50million expansion is approved

Released on July 29, 2015

People in Didcot are set to see a big increase in shopping and dining in the town after plans to expand the Orchard Centre were approved.

Last night (Wednesday 29 July) South Oxfordshire District Council’s Planning Committee voted in favour of approving proposals to almost double the size of the Orchard Centre.

The plans, submitted by centre owners Hammerson Plc, will see the introduction of 24 new shops to the High Street area as well as three new areas of public space, six new restaurants and cafes, a gym and more parking spaces for cars and bikes.

The expanded centre will put Didcot firmly on the map as a regional retail destination and also create more than 500 jobs as well as further opportunities in the construction phase and supply chain.

Earlier this week it was revealed that residents strongly support the proposals with 88 per cent of people questioned in a survey carried out by market research experts Future Thinking saying they were in favour of the expansion. 

The expansion of the Orchard Centre is a huge part of the developments in Didcot as the town adapts to the growth in population.  Elsewhere ambitious plans have been submitted for ‘Didcot Gateway’, a new entrance to the town to be located directly opposite the station.  There are also proposals for the site at the former Didcot A Power Station and the first of many new community facilities have been introduced at Great Western Park,

Cllr John Cotton, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: "On behalf of the 88 per cent of residents who wanted to see this scheme go ahead, I'm glad that Hammerson have got the green light for the next phase of the Orchard Centre. People across Didcot and the surrounding villages understand the value these new shops, cafes and gym will bring to the town and everyone can now look forward to the opening date in 2017.

“To those who raised concerns in response to the application, through the petition, or by speaking last night I say 'You have been heard and the work doesn't stop just because a permission is in place'.  I will continue to press Hammerson for enhancements to the car parking and, in particular, I will carry on looking for a better route for the buses.  That might take a little while, the next phase of the town centre redevelopment or the completion of the relief road, but a better, long-term solution will come."

Russell Beresford, Development Manager at Hammerson Plc, owners of the Orchard Centre, said: “We are delighted that the planning committee resolved to grant planning permission for our proposals for the expansion of the Orchard Centre. These plans will transform Didcot town centre with new shops and restaurants, creating new jobs and further cementing Didcot’s position at the heart of south Oxfordshire. We are now looking forward to making a start on site in the coming months.”