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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.”

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Crawley businesses take out over £90m in loans to survive COVID-19

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Statistics released by the Government have revealed the true extent of lending taken up by businesses across Crawley.

According to a release from the office of Crawley’s MP Henry SMith, businesses across Crawley have benefitted from £92,721,494 worth of loans since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

This includes 1,724 Bounce Back Loans worth £51,495,006 and 102 loans at a value of £41,226,488 through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme.

The number is part of the vast number that have been taken out throughout the whole of the south east of England, where a total of 175,946 Bounce Back Loans, worth £5,269,988,799, and 9,026 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, worth £2,154,703,689, have been provided to support businesses across all sectors, protecting jobs and livelihoods.

Crawley MP Henry Smith said;

“This year has been hugely challenging for businesses in Crawley, but these latest figures demonstrate the scale of support that the Government has put in place to protect livelihoods and businesses.

“Never has the Government’s agenda to level up the whole county been so important. I’ll continue to focus on supporting hardworking families across Crawley.”

With cases still rising and worries that more areas across the country may enter tighter restricttions, the Chancellor has also announced that the Government’s Job Support Scheme will be expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions, alongside increasing the cash grants to businesses in England required to shut in local lockdowns to support with fixed costs – worth up to £3,000 per month.

So far, the Government has provided over £200 billion throughout its economic response to coronavirus to support jobs and businesses in the UK.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, commented;

“Our support for businesses and workers has provided a lifeline to employers up and down the country, supporting people to stay in jobs and protecting livelihoods. “We will build on this as we move to the next stage of our recovery through the Winter Economy Plan, which will continue to protect jobs and help businesses through the months ahead.”

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