Although Crawley Borough Council has secured funding for a revamped Queens Square, the first outline draft regeneration programme looks at how it will deal with around 1,800 new residential units expected in and around the town centre in the next few years.
This is due in part to permitted development rights, which allows empty office blocks to be converted to flats, and development of sites such as Telford Place.
Presenting the plan to Cabinet last Wednesday, Peter Smith (Lab, Ifield), cabinet member for planning, said: “It’s only us who can step forward and take the lead and represent the vision and ambition for the town.”
He explained that they were meeting with building owners of major sites that could potentially come forward, with Overline House next to Crawley Railway Station being one of those that could soon be redeveloped.
He said the plan aimed to be comprehensive but also flexible, due to a tightening of public funding, and would offer a ‘modern, practical and realistic vision for the future’ and set out the town centre’s role as a civic and community hub, recognising it as a ‘21st century space rather than following a 1950s model’.
The programme includes plans to bring forward new high grade business space, invest in the public realm, and develop town centre neighbourhood amenities such as providing a ‘robust’ town centre maintenance and cleaning programme, attracting more health services, more public toilets, and strengthening the evening economy offer.
Duncan Crow (Con, Furnace Green), leader of the Conservative group, said he was pleased to see some flexibility in the programme, and added: “Something might come forward before something else so we are not boxing ourselves in, and we should not be afraid of the private sector and seeing what we can do for the town.”
He continued: “Hopefully Queens Square will act as a further catalyst.”
Several specific sites in the town centre were mentioned including the former Crawley Library site, as well as other nearby buildings in public sector ownership.
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