Fears for ‘deteriorating’ Queens Square as another business closes it doors

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News focus

Urgent action has been called for to pull Queens Square out of its “downward spiral”.

With Dorothy Perkins and Burtons preparing to shut up shop, huge swathes of the square, which used to be the heart of the town centre, have been left empty.

In addition, plans for the next phase of the Town Centre North project would see one of the largest occupied units – Poundland – bulldozed to make way for a pedestrian walk-through from The Boulevard.

The town’s Labour Group has called for Crawley Borough Council to take action to halt the decline – while one Conservative councillor said the square was such a “disgrace” he goes to other towns to do his shopping.

Cllr Peter Smith (Lab, Ifield) said: “We’ve been raising the question of Queens Square with officers for the last year.

“We believe that urgent action needs to be taken to prevent further deterioration in Queens Square and we’re calling for an over-all plan to rejuvenate the whole town centre.

“County Mall is the prosperous part of town and Queens Square is the antithesis of that.”

His views were shared by Observer readers who commented on our Facebook page.

Jenny Ann Packham said: “Our town will be a ghost town soon” while Carrie-Ann Gregory added: “No one who shops here actually has any money to spend.

“There’s nothing unique to bring shoppers to the town centre; if the rents were lower small, niche businesses could be enticed into town centre stores and the customers that those businesses draw in from outside the town would also be likely to visit the other stores in the town.”

Cllr Liam Marshall-Ascough (Con, Southgate) said: “The town square is frankly a disgrace. Hence why I shop in Guildford or Horsham.”

Cllr Smith added: “We seem to be on a downward spiral of increasing numbers of empty shops, in buildings that are desperately in need of a lick of paint and, in many cases, surrounded by pavements that are in need of repair.”

A spokesman said Crawley and West Sussex councils were looking into whether refurbishment would encourage businesses to the area.

Ideas, such as free wifi for Queens Square, are being examined.

To share your views about the square, email lynn.hainge@crawley.gov.uk .