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Didcot gets new £11m business and food park plan

Plans for an £11 million edge-of-town business park and service station creating hundreds of jobs at Milton Interchange have been unveiled.

The development with a hotel, four restaurants and a 10-building business park would be built on 12.7 acres on land by the junction with the A34 and the A4130 – next to McDonald’s, Premier Inn hotel, and BP petrol station.

The project, by Abingdon-based Mays Properties and Wallingford-based Minscombe Properties, has been in the planning stages for six years.

Mays Properties director Richard May said: “We’re very excited about it and it’s a very interesting project which has involved a great deal of time and effort so far.

“It really is a fascinating project as it will act as a nice environment for people wanting to relax off the A34.”

The developers submitted early plans to Vale of White Horse District Council on November 30 asking if an environmental impact assessment need to be drawn up, but a full planning application has not yet been filed.

Minscombe Properties director Frank Bailey said: “It feels good to finally have an application submitted after all this time.

“We are looking forward to this open-minded development finally moving forward.” Minscombe would be in charge of the business park while Mays would run the services part of the site.

Mr May said they have already been ‘flooded with offers’ from firms hoping to rent out parts of the business park and companies interested in opening on the services site.

He added: “We were overwhelmed when it came to the demand. It really is about providing high quality road-side services.”

The services would have two drive-thru restaurants, two restaurants and a three-storey 67-bed hotel which would have a sandwich operator and newsagent on the ground floor.

Mr May said 170 jobs would be created through work at the service park and more would be created at the business park, but how many would depend on which businesses move in.

The business park plans include a mixture of four two-storey buildings and six one-storey buildings.

The site was allocated in Vale’s Local Plan 2031 as an area for retail development. And last month the land was earmarked as part of Didcot’s new ‘Enterprise Zone’, by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.

An enterprise zone means companies get tax discounts by moving there and pay their business rates to the council to invest in the local area – rather than the money going to central Government.

County councillor for Didcot Nick Hards said: “The obvious point is that a hotel is really needed for Didcot and this will be an exciting development to look forward to.

“However, I am concerned that this might have an adverse effect on the other hotels planned though the fact that we can get one going will hopefully get the ball rolling.”

The plans mean there are now four hotels earmarked for the Didcot area.

An eight-storey hotel is planned as part of the £60m Didcot Gateway development in Station Road, a luxury four-star hotel is planned for Milton Gate opposite the site, and a hotel is earmarked for the site of Didcot A Power Station.

Didcot town councillor Margaret Davies, said: “This application is very much like a motorway service station, which reflects the increasing congestion and demand on the A34.

“There has been a need for a site like this since the 70s so it’s of no real surprise to me to see a plan like this coming forward.”

A planning application could be submitted early next year and work could start next September.

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