Last Saturday I enjoyed attending the opening of the new Queens Square. I recognise that there has been a whole year of disruption while the works were being undertaken and it is pleasing to see that they have finally ended. The Queens Square regeneration follows the redevelopment of the old Sussex House site that brought Morrisons, Turtle Bay and Travelodge to the town centre.
The £3.2 million Queens Square scheme has been designed to create a high quality and enjoyable public space. It was a joint project between Crawley Borough Council, West Sussex County Council and the Coast to Capital Local Economic Partnership. I am proud to have been a part of the previous Conservative Administration at Crawley Borough Council that conceived and brought forward this project for the benefit of Crawley.
While there will be a break without work starts again, Crawley Borough Council and West Sussex County Council are now looking at proposals to extend the high quality Queens Square regeneration work along the connecting streets of Queensway, The Pavement and Kingsgate. This £2.2 million scheme will include improved connectivity with the Memorial Gardens and Queensway.
Visitors to the square will see that it has been transformed. It now has a central focal point of an attractive water feature. It has encouraged new businesses to open in the square and for existing retailers and property owners to improve the appearance of their buildings. Crucially, it has acted as a catalyst for further regeneration within Crawley town centre.
For me, even more pleasing than Saturday’s entertaining opening was when I was in the town centre on Sunday afternoon and seeing Queens Square without the opening day attractions, but on the first normal day with the fountains operational. There was a lovely atmosphere on a sunny October afternoon as children played in the water jets and people relaxed on the extensive seating. Add to this the revised seating of the two coffee shops and Queens Square really does have a pleasant and friendly continental feel about it. I left feeling pleased, knowing that we had got this right for Crawley.