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‘We cannot pick and choose’ responds Crawley Council after big increase in towns food & drink retailers

A report showed that Crawley’s retail vacancy rate had dropped significantly since 2018 but the increase in retailers was mainly in the food and drink sector.

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Crawley town centre is certainly starting to get busier helped by the influx of footfall as people come to visit new shops.

This has been evident by the figures released from a report but on closer inspection it has been noted that of the ‘boom’ in independent shops they are mainly made up of food and beverage outlets, or those with food and beverage included.

Queens Square for example is awash with three dedicated coffee shops and a cafe/deli taking up almost a third of the retail space in the square.

Gone are the large range of clothing stores, now you have to wander higher up to The Mall.

Crawley Council were approached to find out how this was being addressed.

A council spokesperson said:

“We cannot pick and choose which type of businesses move into vacant units and we welcome any new traders, considering them an asset to our town centre retail offering.

“It is important to recognise that with national reports showing the habits and demands of shoppers changing in recent years, town centres are becoming more residential and should not rely solely on retail; to thrive, they must become places where people visit for a variety of experiences including retail, hospitality, events and leisure activities.

“However, the council works hard to encourage a range of retailers to come into the town centre and combined with the continued regeneration of the public realm, we hope that new businesses will see Crawley as an attractive place to set up shop.”

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£2.2m redevelopment of Crawley town centre set for completion by Autumn

The regeneration of Queensway, The Pavement and Kingsgate, is progressing on time and on budget according to the council.

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Cllr Roger Elkins and Cllr Peter Smith

The £2.2m scheme is part of the Crawley Growth Programme, funded by Crawley Borough Council, West Sussex County Council, and the Local Growth Fund through the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership.

Blakedown Landscapes, who built the Queens Square, started on site in January, installing new paving along Queensway and The Pavement, and new benches and trees throughout both areas.

Work is currently underway outside Marks and Spencer and will move up towards Kingsgate over the coming weeks. The project is on time to complete in the autumn.

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

“It is great to see the project taking shape and the completed areas look fantastic and I thank the public and businesses for their patience while the work is completed.

“Once the development is finished, I am confident that the scheme will build on the success of Queens Square where we have seen around £30m private sector investment in the surrounding properties, including bringing a number of vacant units back into use.

“I look forward to seeing the end result.”

Continuing this, Councillor Roger Elkins, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said: “I am delighted to see the Queensway, Pavement and Kingsway scheme progressing to time and on budget.

“This is yet another exciting success story from the Crawley Growth Programme – showing what collaboration and partnership working can achieve to support regeneration.

“The scheme clearly complements and builds on the success of the Queens Square project and I look forward to its completion later this year.”

Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive at Coast to Capital said:

“We are thrilled to see such fantastic progress with the Crawley Growth Programme and look forward to seeing the regeneration of Queensway come to fruition.”

All business in the area will remain open while the remainder of the works are carried out. For more information about the project and regular progress reports, please visit www.regeneratingcrawley.org.uk/queensway

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