Give us back our community spirit!

The chairman of one of the town’s neighbourhood forums has called for a former doctors’ surgery to be used as a community centre.

Dennis Williams, of the West Green Forum, addressed a meeting of Crawley Borough Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday (July 2).

jpco 9-7-14 Dennis Williams (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140807-111051001

jpco 9-7-14 Dennis Williams (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140807-111051001

Appealing for the council to purchase the building at 117 Ifield Road for community use, Mr Williams warned the continued loss of facilities from the neighbourhood over the past years had robbed West Green of its sense of identity.

He said: “We would like to see a sense of community spirit back in West Green. Residents feel they are swimming against the tide.”

West Green has lost its surgery and post office in recent years as well as part of its school.

The neighbourhood’s community centre was closed due to lack of use but Mr Williams, 61, said: “I know they said they took it away because no one was using it but that was then.

“West Green is changing as the years pass. Where the young people are moving in they either have children or will have children soon.”

Planning permission has been given for 218 flats to be built in Ifield Road and 92 key worker flats in West Green Drive where the Fairfield House nurses home used to stand.

With the new homes bringing more families to the area, Mr Williams felt the need for a community centre was valid.

Welcoming a recent spate of applications to convert empty offices to homes, he added: “It is a good idea but if you are going to do that, you have to have the amenities to go with it.”

Mr Williams’ view was backed by Vanessa Cumper who organised a petition, which was signed by more than 1,000 people, in an attempt to save 117 Ifield Road from being demolished to make way for new homes.

Appealing for the council to buy the building, she also called on members to “listen to the residents” and locally list the building as having social importance.

The council decided, subject to consultation with the owners, neighbouring residents and any others with an interest in the land, to approve the building for local listing because of its “architectural interest”.