Having been a long time Crawley resident from a long line of Crawley residents and having seen the comments on various Crawley Facebook groups, I know how fond people are of some of the buildings they have come to know.
That is true of some the buildings in Manor Royal where happy memories have been forged through years of hard work. Sometimes generations of the same family have followed each other through the doors of the same factory, office or warehouse. It is easy, then, to understand that a building is sometimes much more that bricks and mortar, or steel and concrete.
Right now, and over the next year or so, we will see some major changes in Manor Royal.
Among the buildings set to go are: The Base on Fleming Way, Virgin Atlantic’s old training centre (Formerly Upjohns) and where scenes from James Bond movies have been filmed. Virgin’s old HQ, The Office, on the Crawley Business Quarter is being demolished, as is Churchill Court, former home to Air Europe and others. The old Alpha building in Woolborough Lane is going through a major facelift, plus the old Metal Box site off of Woolborough Lane, land at Jersey Farm in County Oak and a site at Hydehurst Lane are all planned to accommodate new industrial buildings.
I suspect this isn’t the end of the changes either and for some this will be met with a sense of sadness and regret, not least for the memories that reside in these buildings that might feel tainted somewhat by the loss of the building itself.
In their place are plans to rebuild. At each and every site the new owners want to create the buildings of the future that will sustain new businesses, new jobs and new memories.
This is very different to the last financial crisis that saw over 90 acres of land lie redundant without a single brick on them, and of the buildings that were there up to 20% were standing vacant. That added up to our main employment area being 40% empty – for years.
As hard as things are at the moment the fact there are developers prepared to invest their money in Crawley and build very good quality buildings to support new businesses is, without question, a good thing. It means there are people out there who know Manor Royal is a good bet. And they are putting their money where their mouth is.
Change is coming, like it or not, and if there is one thing Manor Royal has shown through the years it is its ability to move with the times. The millions of pounds of investment and new development, if nothing else should give us confidence that once again Crawley can live up to its motto to “Grow and Rejoice.”
Find out more about Manor Royal at www.manorroyal.org