A new growth hub at the heart of the Gatwick Diamond
Crawley is a New Town in West Sussex with a population of over 100,000. It’s situated 28 miles south of Charing Cross and 18 miles north of Brighton. Crawley is not currently as affluent as its highly sought-after neighbours. Horsham and East Grinstead are where well-heeled commuters traditionally rent properties. However, all this is changing with the regeneration of the town centre. An extensive £3m project aims to create a dynamic growth hub at the heart of the Gatwick Diamond and is due to complete by 2017.
What is the Gatwick Diamond?
A region of economic growth in southern England marked by London at the top and Brighton at the bottom. The Diamond runs west to east from Guildford to Tonbridge with Gatwick airport and neighbouring Crawley at the centre.
The Gatwick Diamond is one of the strongest local economies in the UK and is home to 45,000 UK businesses and 500 international businesses.
In terms of housing stock, there’s no shortage of 1 bedroom apartments for sale within the town. In February 2016 A total of 88 sales were highlighted through RightMove ranging in price from £225,000 to approx. £130,000 in various conditions, from converted and dated maisonettes to purpose-built units. There is a shortage of new build development in the city centre which provides a significant opportunity to supply rentals to a very specific demographic of professional tenants.
Crawley has seen a massive change in the rental figures between the 2001 and 2011 census with an increase of 129.5 % increase in private rental over the 10-year period. In 2010 housing figures for Crawley were 20% below the average for the region but are consistent with the national average. Recent figures for Crawley (2015) have highlighted annual increases of 9.6% due largely to lack of supply in London and increased prices around the M25 commuter zone due to the ripple effect.
Economy & Employment
There has been a 600% rise in jobs in Crawley, as it becomes an increasingly popular travel to work area.
Crawley is home to approximately 3,700 businesses and generates a gross value added (GVA) of more than £3.6 billion for the UK. As a result, it creates employment for close to 100,000 people.
With Gatwick airport being situated to the north of Crawley, it is understandably a major employer in the area. Major employers can be seen in retail, transportation and accommodation/food businesses.
Major employers are as follows:
- Gatwick Airport employs 2,500 people (increases to 25,000 people including all the airline staff using the airport.
- The airport is currently a single runway airport, however, any expansion on this would great thousands of extra jobs
- Thales is the UK’s second largest defence electronics supplier and currently employs 2,400 in Crawley
- Virgin Holidays employs 1,170 staff with its head office located in Station Road within the town centre. This is also the location for the Virgin Atlantic training base
- EasyJet employs 3,760 employees through Gatwick airport. Other major employers in the area employing upwards of 800 staff include Nestle, TUI Travel and Tesco
£3 million town centre regeneration + £18m for infrastructure improvements.
A process of town centre regeneration is underway. A large development to the northwest of the retail centre opened in 2014. A further £3.2 million in improvements to Queens Square is set for completion in 2017. A further £18 million for transport and infrastructure improvements has been secured.
The Broadway is set for public space improvements, subject to appropriate development sites becoming available would be considered as Phase 2 (behind Queens Square). A total of 4 sites within Crawley have been earmarked for residential development to increase affordable housing and town centre living. Gatwick Airport is proposing the building of a second runway and new terminal on the Gatwick site.
As part of the proposal, there would be a pledge to deliver £90 billion of economic benefits for the UK and local community pledges worth over £250 million. The council are also in talks with stakeholders about implementing a Business Improvement District.
Air: Gatwick Airport is situated 6.0 miles north of Crawley and is 20 min by car or 9 min by train. Heathrow airport is situated 46 miles north and is a 50 min trip by car.
Train: Trains from Crawley include the Gatwick express going to either London Bridge or London Victoria arriving at London Victoria in approx. 40 minutes and London Bridge in just over 1 hr. Trains from Crawley also travel to Bognor Regis (1 hr.), Southampton Central (1hr 45mins) and Portsmouth Harbour (1 hr. 15 mins).
Road: Crawley is situated close to the M23 offering links to London and Brighton.
Bus: Metrobus operates within Crawley and has multiple services throughout the area.
There are 28 primary schools catering for the needs of Crawley’s children aged between 4 and 12 years.
Crawley has seven secondary schools providing education to children aged between 11 and 16. Notable institutions include:
- The Gatwick School – a new all-through school, that was created to meet the need for more school places in the growing area around Gatwick Airport.
- St Wilfrid’s Catholic School – A solidly Good school with elements of Outstanding according to Ofsted.
Crawley is close to major universities on the South-East including:
- University of Brighton
- University of Sussex
- University of Surrey
- University of Chichester
As a commuter town, it’s also within easy reach of all London’s major universities.
Shops & Leisure
Shopping: County mall shopping centre in Crawley offers general high street shopping, including BHS, Debenhams, Next, Cargo, Superdry, Warehouse and Pandora. There also a good range of eateries including Ed’s Diner, Costa Coffee and Druckers Vienna Patisserie. Adding to the shopping offering there are proposals for a new town centre market to be operational by Spring 2017.
Leisure: Crawley Leisure Park contains a multi-screen cinema, bowling alley, gym and a number of chain restaurants and is located just north of Crawley High Street. K2 is a leisure centre with a 50m Olympic sized swimming pool and slides for kids. It also has a huge rock climbing wall, well-equipped gym and athletics track so caters for many sporting persuasions.
Green Spaces: Tilgate Park is rated the number 1 thing to do in Crawley on TripAdvisor. There’s a variety of outdoors activities on offer from Go Ape, to lake sailing and golf to animal attractions and pub lunches.
Entertainment: Crawley is home to local theatre The Hawth. It hosts the cream of London’s touring shows as well as bands & comedy acts. There’s also a new town centre museum planned for Autumn 2016.