A decision is due to be made by Labour councillors at Crawley Borough Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday evening, that will bring to an end years of dispute between Tilgate residents and the council, and see the satisfactory resolution of a long-running campaign.
Residents in Ely Close, Oxford Road, Winchester Road and Worcester Road have fought against proposals to bring forward 18 housing units in the green space behind their homes, arguing that it was poorly placed, and Tilgate would lose a much valued area for leisure and recreation.
The proposals had been approved by the then Tory Cabinet in March 2012, and pushed through in the face of public opposition, and a petition presented to the council at the same time.
Local Labour councillors, including Tilgate member Cllr Colin Lloyd, had supported local residents’ opposition to the then Tory controlled council’s proposals. The campaign culminated in a bid to make the land an Asset of Community Value, which halted for six months any legal sale of the land.
Wednesday’s report to the ruling Cabinet gives a chance to reappraise the situation now that Labour has retaken control of the borough council after eight years in opposition.
Residents from across Tilgate are expected to be present in the public gallery on Wednesday evening, as Cabinet members will make the decision whether to continue to make the original sale to the developer, sell the land to any community bid, or to simply withdraw the council-owned land altogether in the face of residents’ wishes.
As the local member, Cllr Lloyd was optimistic that his Cabinet colleagues would withdraw the land from sale and intends to argue for this action on Wednesday night.
Cllr Lloyd said: “The field behind Ely Close has always been highly valued by residents there. The previous Tory council became out of touch, and tried to push this through, despite all the arguments. It falls to us to put this right on Wednesday night.
“This is illustrative of keeping the pleasant character of Crawley through the protection of our green space.
“I feel this is yet another excellent example of this Labour council’s new approach compared to that of the Conservatives. We are listening and being open to what residents are saying. To my mind, that is a very positive and long overdue change.”