A few years ago, Crawley Borough Council passed its Local Plan, outlining how from a planning perspective all the space in the town should be used, this is something all councils are required to do to avoid their planning decisions being overturned on appeal. These plans are often controversial, arousing strong passions in neighbourhoods over the possible future development of land in their community and the previous Conservative administration had failed to pass their plan despite holding a five seat majority, leaving many areas at risk of hostile development.
Nonetheless, a revised Local Plan was finally approved by Labour in 2015 at a point when we held only a one-seat majority on the council, we got it through anyway. In politics as in life, there really is no substitute for knowing what you’re doing. As a result, we have a plan for delivering significant amounts of housing for the town over a fifteen year period, with some of the most stringent affordable housing requirements of any council, while protecting local green space.
Far too often have I heard people doing the town down as some sort of concrete jungle yet, as a tool posted on BBC News today proves, what Crawley lacks in rolling fields it more than makes up for in urban green space (parks, playing fields and other patches of community greenery) with such land use over five times the national average.
This isn’t something which happened by random chance, it was part of the original New Town design which drew upon the ideas of the Garden City Movement to create self-contained ‘village’ neighbourhoods, filled with communal greenery and with employment land concentrated in the industrial estate and town centre. While some of this land has been sacrificed for housing over the years, the vast majority remains in place and as we move on from the town’s Platinum Anniversary it’s something we must continue to do everything we can to protect.