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Crawley manages to keep town centre vacancy rate below national average

It may only be less than 1% but the fact is that Crawley has new shops arriving in the town centre.

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Cllr Smith and Cllr Lanzer at the newly opened Queensway.

The state of the High Street has been of national interest ever since the internet began to take over from high street store sales many years ago.

But none more so than in Crawley where rents and rates have affected so many of the small businesses and units have fallen empty.

So it is good to hear that whilst nationally the vacancy rate is at a scary high, Crawley is managing to stay under it…just.

The national rate is currently 11.6% whilst Crawley is at 10.8% but this could be about to improve even more.

With the town centre regeneration well under way and works around and leading up to the Queens Sq now complete there is talk of new energy in the form of new retailers coming to the town.

Recently Cards Direct opened a branch and even Citea moved into County Mall.

But is the £2.2million regeneration scheme that was funded by the Crawley and West Sussex Council and by Coast To Capital Local Enterprise Partnership going to really be enough to revitalise an area that is encountering a national problem?

Footfall will only return if there are places for people to visit and it is the demand for new retailers that Crawley is craving.

Crime has always been of concern to the town centre retailers and as part of efforts to reduce anti-social behaviour and increase visibility in the town centre, dominant hedging was removed from the edge of Memorial Gardens opposite the existing retail units. The entrance to Memorial Gardens was also opened up, with benches installed alongside new flowerbeds.

It is now hoped that with this new look and feel in the town centre that new investment will be encouraged bringing with it new jobs.

Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development, Councillor Peter Smith, said:

“I am thrilled this project is now finished. The redeveloped area compliments the look and feel of Queens Square and opens up our town centre, showing off our fantastic retail and leisure offer as well as our beautiful Memorial Gardens.”

Bob Lanzer, county council Cabinet Member for the Economy, said:

“The completion of the Queensway scheme is a key milestone within the Crawley Growth Programme.

“The scheme complements Queens Square and has made the whole area an even more attractive place to shop and spend leisure time. I am delighted that the Crawley Growth Programme continues to invigorate the town centre.”

Business

Crawley jobs at risk as DW Sports goes into administration

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Jobs at DW Sports in Crawley town centre are at risk along with 1,700 hundred jobs across the country as the company announced it is to wind down the business.

The sports website has also been closed with immediate effect.

According to reports closing down sales are due to begin at the remaining stores as the business comes to an end.

Fitness First, a sister company of DW is to continue to operate as a separate company and its 43 clubs are not to be affected by the news.

Chief executive Martin Long said:

“As a consequence of Covid-19, we found ourselves in a position where we were mandated by Government to close down both our retail store portfolio and our gym chain in its entirety for a protracted period, leaving us with a high fixed-cost base and zero income.

“Like many other retail businesses, the consequences of this extremely challenging operating market have created inevitable profitability issues for DW Sports.

“The decision to appoint administrators has not been taken lightly but will give us the best chance to protect viable parts of the business, return them to profitability, and secure as many jobs as possible.

“It is a difficult model for any business to manage through without long-term damage, and with the limited support which we have been able to gain.

“Having exhausted all other available options for the business, we firmly believe that this process can be a platform to restructure the business and preserve many of our gyms for our members, and also protect the maximum number of jobs possible for our team members.”

Crawley Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development, said:

“This is terrible news for the staff of DW Sports; I sympathise with them and hope that they are able to secure other employment quickly. Our Employ Crawley service is currently providing free one-to-one employability and training support to jobseekers by phone, email and text.”

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