Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to revitalise Crawley High Street

Jeremy Corbyn at caterpillars pre school
Jeremy Corbyn at caterpillars pre school

The Labour leader said he would revitalise Crawley High Street by reversing changes to planning laws which have been opposed by the town’s council and business groups.

Jeremy Corbyn said he would end permitted development laws when he visited Crawley yesterday (November 11).

Permitted development rights (PDR) allow disused office, commercial or retail space to be converted into private sector housing without the need for planning permission from the borough council.

He said: “I would re-empower local authorities to ensure fewer out of town developments, more high street-needed developments and balance shopping opportunity in them because otherwise we just end up with high streets all across the country which are fundamentally dead and some people who can do car-based suburban shopping doing so but others simply not having them stuck with a small number of high-end quite expensive shops.

“We need to reinvigorate our high streets and I feel very strongly the high street is a very important thing in any town.

“It’s your centre of your community, your life and you should be able to do your life and you should be able to shop as well as your leisure activities so we need a balance in high streets.

“They cannot just be charity shops, estate agents and pay-day loan companies.”

During his visit to Caterpillar Pre-School, Ditchling Hill, Southgate, the opposition leader also spoke to parents and staff about his opposition to Tory proposals to cut working tax credits.

Crawley business leaders voiced their disappointment over central government’s decision to make PDR, which were introduced temporarily in 2013, permanent in May 2016.

Rosemary French OBE, executive director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, Steve Sawyer, executive director oif the Manor Royal Business Improvement District, Jeremy Taylor CEO of Gatwick Diamond Business and councillor Peter Smith, cabinet member for planning and economic development criticised the decision when they gathered at the Town Hall on October 19.

A council spokesman said PDR had resulted in:

“A significant loss of employment space in Crawley, with more than 500,000 sq ft to have disappeared by the end of the year. This is the same size as about nine football pitches

“Residential developments to be built in the wrong locations, including the Manor Royal Business District

“An adverse impact on Crawley’s community, as noisy building work takes place without notifying residents, there is no opportunity for the council and local people to consider the merits of residential development and no obligation on site owners to consider how residents access waste collection services

“Crawley being more acutely affected than other areas because of its special characteristics as a major regional centre for business growth, wealth generation and job creation.”

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