Building starts on new Crawley retail park with Aldi, M&S, and Smyths Toys

Artist's impression of new retail park
Artist's impression of new retail park

Work has started on a retail park which will have an Aldi supermarket, Smyths Toys and M&S Simply Food store.

Acorn Retail Park is expected to open next summer off the Fleming Way roundabout in London Road, County Oak, said construction company Kier.

Operations director Steve Cresswell said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to deliver this exciting new retail park, which will give the Crawley residents and people who work in the Manor Royal Business District a wider choice of shopping facilities when it opens to the public next summer.

“We’re also pleased to be able to offer vital training opportunities during the build, and will be employing an apprentice on the scheme.”

Kier employs 86 people at its Crawley offices.

Cantium Developments has awarded it the construction contract for the three-acre development.

Crawley Borough Council gave the scheme planning permission on March 2.

Cllr Ian Irvine (Lab, Broadfield North) said the development near the A23 London Road between Crawley and Gatwick was a good use of land.

He said Crawley people would want to have the retailers in town and added: “It would enhance the shopping opportunities in Crawley rather than cause damage to them.”

A car park with 180 spaces and access from Betts Way roundabout would be created.

Gatwick Diamond Initiative (GDI) objected to the plan.

A council document stated GDI wanted the committee to wait for a decision to be made about the potential second runway at Gatwick Airport.

GDI raised concerns over a lack of industrial space in Manor Royal, increased traffic congestion from shoppers, damage to the town centre’s economy and, contrary to Manor Royal Business Improvement District’s plans, online ‘click and collect’ shopping would not improve trade in County Oak.

Chris Boulter, Cantium Developments chief executive, said: “From mighty oaks do acorns grow and hence one of our core objectives has been to emulate the success of the neighbouring County Oak Retail Park. The Acorn Retail Park will unquestionably extend the range of available retail choice for Crawley residents, while also bringing much needed and easily accessible convenience food shopping for the benefit of the Manor Royal workforce.

“We are confident that the scheme will, from the outset, enjoy considerable success. That sentiment is clearly evidenced by the pre-lettings to three of the UK’s major retailers.”

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