Demolition of ‘diabolical’ Overline House approved

What the new flats might look like from Friary Way
What the new flats might look like from Friary Way

Plans to demolish the ‘diabolical’ Overline House and build 308 flats and a new Crawley railway station have been approved.

Proposals would see new three blocks of housing alongside a multi-storey car park, and public realm enhancements.

While several members of Crawley Borough Council’s Planning Committee spoke about the lack of any affordable housing in the scheme and the effect to residents in East Park, overall they agreed with the scheme.

Residents objections centred around the overdevelopment of the site and the height of the buildings, as well as the potential loss of the Victorian footbridge.

Two petitions with a total of 384 signatures calling for the footbridge to be saved were submitted to CBC, and a member of the Southgate Forum told councillors it would be a ‘travesty if the bridge was lost’. Officers explained that the developer was open to retaining the footbridge ‘if feasible’.

Councillor Martin Stone (Con, Ifield) said: “I welcome this much needed development. I do have some sympathy with the height but overall the scheme is really good particularly the plaza area and public realm space.

“I think that will make a real positive impact for the town and people coming to Crawley for the first time.”

Councillor Stephen Joyce (Lab, Langley Green) added: “Overline House it’s like something out of East Berlin, it’s diabolical.”

But Councillor Tahira Rana (Lab, Broadfield South) made a plea for the footbridge to be saved as it was part of the town’s history, while Councillor Kim Jaggard (Con, Maidenbower) expressed concern that properties to the south of the railway line would not be able to see any sky from their windows.

Councillor Francis Guidera (Con, Tilgate) also made a plea for the footbridge to be saved, but also praised the developer’s willingness to engage.

Meanwhile Councillor Michael Pickett (Lab, Southgate) raised parking concerns in the area.

Afterwards Councillor Peter Smith (Lab, Ifield), cabinet member for planning and economic development, said: “This is a fundamental part of the town; it’s a gateway into Crawley and as such, the first and last impression people get when they travel by train. At the moment it’s very much giving the wrong impression; it’s grey, tired and dominated by a dual carriageway.

“I’m so happy these plans have been given the green light as it will make such a huge difference to the town centre - helping to create an environment which is modern, attractive and safe, providing good links from the station to the town centre, particularly for people walking, riding bikes and catching public transport. This application is also a great example of the council working with the private sector to encourage the right kind of regeneration.”

Surinder Arora, founder and chairman of the Arora Group, added: “The Arora Group has been part of the community in Crawley for over a decade, providing employment for local residents at the Arora Hotel Gatwick Crawley.

“With this important next step in the process achieved, we are fully committed to this complex development and look forward to working with all involved, including Network Rail, as we work towards improving the town for everyone.”

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