Is a 70 year old New Town still a New Town? Especially when its original population figures have more than doubled from 40,000 to 110,000 or thereabouts making us more of a 21st Century (small) City than a Town. And all this has happened around a set of roads that have not changed significantly and were designed well before current levels of car ownership. And we now face new challenges. A demand from Government in their National Planning Policy Framework to increase the density of housing (i.e. more houses in less space) and the intensity of housing (i.e. build higher and more flats) adds to the housing numbers which are expected to grow by another 6000 homes during the fifteen years of our next Local Plan. Our Local Plan process works all of this out and allocates space for homes, businesses and open space and WSCC produce a list of strategic major road schemes needed to manage the increasing population, even though identifying the needs does not necessarily pay for or build the roads and infrastructure. And in to this mix we must factor in the Climate Change emergency which particularly draws attention to the fact that we have chronic parking, congestion and air pollution issues in Crawley.
So what to do about this? Certainly doing nothing leads to only one outcome – the situation will get worse. We at CBC are not the Highways authority but nonetheless we have taken the initiative to think about how all 110,000 of us move around within the confined space of Crawley, not forgetting the net 23,000 people that commute into Crawley for work every day. So, we have produced a draft Transport Strategy titled ‘New Directions for Crawley’ to begin to stimulate discussion and debate within our communities and to look at solutions that could help us all get around in a more sustainable and inclusive way. We don’t expect everybody to like all of it! But we do hope that you will let us know your ideas and suggestions as well as your comments to help us work out ways that deliver improved transportation for everyone. And then maybe we will be able to move together towards a more sustainable Direction of Travel?
Cllr Peter Smith – Labour Ifield and Ifield West
Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development