Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by Crawley Borough Council (NT 15(a))


  1.   What was the original objective of the town?

  Crawley New Town was one of the "first generation" London New Towns. It's origins were in various war time and immediate post war committees and commissions. The Barlow Commission 1940, the Scott Committee 1941, the Uthwatt Committee 1942, the Abercrombie Plan for London 1944, the New Towns Act 1946, and ultimately the Reith Committee 1947, which was established "to consider all matters relating to the establishment of New Towns".

  The Barlow Commission—was remitted to consider the containment of the existing urban areas and the decentralisation of population and industry from older city areas, including central and east London, with the objective of improving living standards, environmental conditions and industrial and business performance.

  The Abercrombie Plan had the aim of moving one and a half million people out of London to overcome overcrowding and poor conditions, and to foster post war regeneration. It recommended ten new towns for up to half a million people in total, each 20 to 25 miles from central London. Two of these new towns were envisaged to be south of London, one south of Oxted and the other south of Dorking.

  The Reith Committee was asked to consider the requirements for developing self contained and balanced communities for work and living, providing modern homes and business facilities and an un-crowded living environment with plenty of green space. The implied objective for the new towns the Reith Committee was asked to establish, was to lead the Country's post war industrial recovery whilst providing the opportunity for the blitzed areas of the cities, particular London, to be rebuilt.

  The New Town Act originally envisaged 20 new towns of which eight were agreed to disperse people and employment from London.

  There were therefore a series of push and pull objectives for the new town:

    —  to provide modern homes, modern business, good environment, with plenty of space, fresh air and self-contained and balanced communities;

    —  to disperse business and population from London;

    —  to allow London to recover from the war and to provide better conditions within London;

    —  to use poor agricultural land and to develop new communities with good access and routes to all directions.

  2.   Which of those objectives do you think have been met?

  Modern, good quality homes—successful.

  Location for modern business—successful

  Good living conditions, environment and facilities with plenty of green space—successful

  Self-contained community—generally successful, perhaps less so now.

  A balanced community—not entirely so. Predominance of younger age groups and under representation of higher social groups.

  Dispersal from London. Helping London's recover—apparently contributed.

  Use of poor agricultural land—mainly the case.

  Good accessible location. On main routes and railway lines—yes, although location of Town Centre away from London to Brighton Line will necessitate substantial investment if it is to be viewed in the long term as a successful and sustainable location.

  Overall Crawley was very successful in achieving all or originally all of the objectives set for re-development of a New Town.

  3.   What do you consider to be its role in the region/sub-region in the future?

  Grafted on to an existing settlement pattern the Town has had to create its identity and role within the region and, even 50 years on, there are issues of perception which hamper the full realisation of the Town's role. The reality is that Crawley is developing a pivotal regional/sub-regional rule as the main town and business, employment and commercial centre between south London and the South Coast. It has far eclipsed all nearby rival Towns and is one of about half a dozen main centres arranged around London at between 15 and 30 miles out. The Town has the potential to consolidate and extend its role significantly in the future to the benefit of those who live and work here or in the surrounding area and the Council is committed to the growth of the town both residentially and commercially. To achieve this potential, however, requires recognition of the Town's developing role and a commitment from a range of government agencies to the development of the community and transport infrastructure which serves the area.

  4.   To what extent is the original masterplan for the town still used as a guiding principle for development and redevelopment?

  Crawley is remarkable in the extent to which the original New Town Plan and principles were adhered to in its development as a New Town up the mid 1970s and its continued development since that date, ie beyond the originally envisaged size for a New Town. These principles are still pivotal in current planning approaches;

    —  the neighbourhood principle, residential areas with good local facilities;

    —  local green space to separate areas, to provide shape and form to the Town and areas and to provide outdoor recreation and leisure facilities for the residents;

    —  a road network developed so as to channel traffic onto the most appropriate roads and to avoid inappropriate traffic travelling through residential areas;

    —  several rings of development around a centrally positioned New Town centre;

    —  separate business and industrial areas;

    —  a ringed layout for the Town Centre itself. The retail core is surrounded by other facilities, services and public buildings.

  5.   How well have the old and new parts of your town been integrated? If they have not been well integrated what form does this take in physical/spatial terms and what are the implications of this for the growth of the town?

  Overall, older and New Town parts of the Town are very well integrated. A few special, older areas are outside the main structure, but most pre-New Town development has been integrated into their respective neighbourhoods and business areas. In fact, the pre-New Town layout which had a bypass road some distance away from the small original town area was ideal for creating and planning for Crawley. It allowed an inner ring of neighbourhoods and other facilities to be developed and then beyond the bypass an outer ring of neighbourhoods was built. The implication of this integration of old and new is that compared with many towns, the opportunities for radical change and re-development have been relatively limited. There is limited room for the town centre to grow without encroaching into adjoining neighbourhoods and the emphasis has to be on planned extensions to the town rather than brownfield development.

  6.   Has/can the town achieve the population that was originally planned?

  The original target population for Crawley New Town was 55 to 60,000. This was achieved in the late 1960s and has been well exceeded now. The population will exceed 100,000 in the very near future.

  7.   How does the age profile of your population relate to the national average? Is this related to your being a New Town? How do local agencies and strategies respond to that?

  The population age structure of Crawley has traditionally been portrayed as being overwhelmingly young and out of step with the national and regional profiles. However, for the last few decades, the age structure has gradually been moving towards at least the sub-regional average. It still has a relatively young population age profile with a high proportion of children and people in working and family age groups. The number of elderly, particularly the 60-75 group, is increasing fast in proportion to others. However, compared with most areas this is still a minority group. It will probably take another 10 to 15 years before the age structure matches other areas, and even then because of the strength of the local economy, it may still have some bias towards working age groups.

  The response of different agencies to this population age structure has varied. Some bodies have generally responded well. The Council has sought to tailor its services to the particular needs of the area. The education authority is now adapting education provision of the Town to the changing profile. On the other hand, in some respects, the Health Service has generally lagged well behind. The number and type of facilities and services has not always kept up well with the demands of population growth and change. There is a clear need for new and high quality hospital provision. Similarly library provision has lagged well behind demographic changes.

  8.   How strong is the demand for the existing commercial land? Is there demand for further commercial development in the town? What is the effect of commercial development in the town on other towns in the sub-regional economy?

  Looked in the long term perspective there is strong commercial demand for location in the Borough, reflecting in particular the locational advantages of the area. There is however an issue concerning the attraction of knowledge based industries and securing for the long term a varied and stable economic base for the Town. Commercial development is a key factor in the local and sub-regional economy and the prosperity of the area, and is important in securing the transfer of economic benefits from London, down the transport corridor to Brighton and the areas of coastal regeneration.

  9.   Can you describe the sub-regional planning arrangements that are in place to regulate/facilitate development? Can you describe the strengths and weaknesses of the current approach?

  Answer not available in the time available.

  10.   What is the regional/sub-regional role of the shopping centre in your town? What investment is proposed in the town centre area in the next few years?

  The Town centre now operates at a sub-regional and possibly regional level. There has been substantial public sector and private sector investment in the last ten years. This investment will have to be maintained over the next ten years if the town is to fulfil its potential to provide an accessible and sustainable regional shopping centre. The Council has published a draft strategy aimed at securing this.


  11.   Can you give some numerical examples of the problems that have arisen with clawback and covenants in housing, amenity space and other land uses?

  Answer not available in time.

  12.   The Committee has been made aware that in some cases clawback has made Right to Buy marginal or even negative, in terms of receipts to the local authority. Has this been the case in your authority, if so can you give a financial example? What are the implications of this?

  Answer not available in time.

  13.   Can you quantify the outstanding liabilities facing your authority, firstly as a result of the package of assets and liabilities transferred to the authority at the winding up of the Development Corporation and secondly as a result of design and other issues relating to the New Town?

  Answer not available in time.

  14.   How does the financial value of the liabilities caused as a result of your town being a New Town, compare to the financial value of the remaining assets held by English Partnerships in the town?

  Answer not available in time.

  15.   To what extent has English Partnerships participated in regeneration partnerships in your town?

  To date there has been very little involvement. English Partnerships or rather the CNT have tended to operate primarily as a commercial entity, selling and developing land and property for commercial gain. Indeed, with respect to the few opportunities for a partnership approach, eg Broadfield Barton, the CNT chose to opt out.

  English Partnerships are however displaying strong interest in becoming an active partner in some of the current, new ideas for new development and regeneration in Crawley including new neighbourhood development and development of the town centre.

  16.   Many of the submissions have referred to the inadequacy of the existing SSA to reflect the needs of the New Towns. Can you detail those weaknesses and set out any suggestions about how any successor to the SSA could be improved?

  Answer not available in time.

  17.   Has the pattern of ownership and CNT/EP's role had any implication in your ability to develop a housing strategy for the area?

  Answer not available in time.


  18.   What is the balance between the original design/materials used and lack of maintenance/resources for maintenance in the causes of the poor housing conditions found in some of the New Towns?

  Answer not available in time.

  19.   Has your design led to problems with crime? If so, have you looked at ways to design out crime? Are there any funding streams currently available to address this particular problem and if so how successful have you been at bidding for such funding?

  Answer not available in time.

  20.   What are you doing through your Local Transport Plan to address the problems of car dependence? Does your local Transport Plan include provision for dealing with issues of design and layout where that promotes car dependence?

  The Local transport Plan includes a "traffic reduction strategy". This will be reflected in the Crawley Urban Transport Plan and the Transport Strategy for the Community to be drawn up by CBC. There are a range of elements to the traffic reduction strategies for this area which include cycle and pedestrian schemes and promotion, travel plans, improved public transport at a variety of levels and forms and parking management and control including controlled parking zones and revised standards and requirements for parking provision. The Plan also includes Fastway, a guided bus system, which will need development beyond the route currently funded in order to enable a radical change in travel habits across the whole of the Town.

  The Transport Plan does not include proposals for changing existing designs and layouts which apparently promote car dependence. However virtually all the town centre and neighbourhood improvement schemes which have been undertaken or are planned have an implied and sometimes explicit objective of trying to control car usage and dependency and promoting or facilitating greater use of public transport, cycling or walking.

  21.   Have you introduced or planned any measure to promote mobility schemes targeted at the old or the young?

  There already exists a dial a ride service and various other forms of community transport. There is a shop mobility scheme developed by the Borough Council and now run by an independent basis with support from the borough and the private sector. A safe routes to schools initiative is scheduled for 2003-04. The local Transport Strategy for the Community is likely to include proposals for revamping community transport services aimed at groups which are not well served by or can not easily use existing services and modes.

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