Published: 13 August 2021

From: Environment

Crawley Borough Council has submitted an expression of interest to the government, drawn up with West Sussex County Council support, for much-needed funds to invest in streetscape infrastructure across the town.

If successful, this will relieve congestion, improve health and air quality and transform neighbourhoods for the better – but West Sussex County Council (WSCC) and Henry Smith MP now say they won’t back the bid, which is hugely disappointing for residents and businesses.

Despite letters of support from Gatwick Airport, Manor Royal Business Improvement District, Crawley Town Centre Business Improvement District, Metrobus and Crawley Cycle Forum, WSCC and the town’s MP will not support the submission of the expression of interest, which could be worth up to £45m.

The government is inviting expressions of interest and wants to invest significantly in 12 pilot local authority areas outside of London after the success of three ‘mini Holland’ schemes in the capital.

The borough council believes that Crawley is the ideal place to implement a ‘mini Holland’ programme, which would revitalise the town with healthy, people-oriented streetscapes, improving residents’ living environment, active travel options and health outcomes – a key priority of the West Sussex Health and Wellbeing Board.

Crawley has:

  • The need for urgent action on climate change, health and wellbeing and the economy 
  • The best suited geography and neighbourhood structure
  • The ability to deliver and track record of delivery
  • The support from key partners

The county council’s Economy Reset Plan 2020-2024 specifically states that rebuilding the economy post-pandemic in Crawley is a priority; Crawley is the only town cited in the plan’s themes and much reference is made of supporting infrastructure to assist the town’s recovery.

The county council’s Reset Plan January 2021-2025 specifically states that rebuilding the economy post-pandemic in Crawley is a priority and working in partnership to do this will be essential; this plan states that the priority outcomes include sustainable prosperous economies based on climate change, local economy, road network and shared spaces.

Crawley Borough Council believes that the ‘mini Holland’ bid is the most fitting project to underpin the county council’s priorities.

WSCC is part of the Crawley Economic Recovery Taskforce which has endorsed the Crawley Economic Recovery Plan, currently out to consultation which advocates the “green transformation” of Crawley’s economy and infrastructure.

This opportunity for a significant £45m investment in Crawley’s infrastructure, much of which is over 50 years old now and shows it, is too good to miss. The investment would be transformational for the town and improve many of our residents’ top issues – things like potholes, pavements and general street scene – while improving air quality, helping us to meet our carbon reduction targets and creating jobs. We want to work with the government and county council to make this a reality. If the county council and MP don’t back this bid, Crawley could be forever deprived of these improvements. Why should Crawley miss out?

Cllr Peter Smith

Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development

Crawley Borough Council