‘Disappointing’ Crawley parade revamp’s £550k budget was too small, says council

Broadfield Barton works finish. Pic Steve Robards  SR1613753 SUS-160516-143232001
Broadfield Barton works finish. Pic Steve Robards SR1613753 SUS-160516-143232001

Crawley Borough Council says part of a shopping parade revamp became ‘not affordable’ within its £550,000 budget after many branded it a waste of public money.

A spokesman said the council scrapped plans to replace columns supporting the Broadfield Barton’s former canopy after works revealed they were built as sewage downpipes. Replacing them would mean reconfiguring the area’s drainage system at a ‘significant’ cost which would make the project overbudget.

Many criticised the Broadfield Barton Improvement Project on social media after it was revealed the works were due to finish on Thursday (May 19).

John Hepton, on the Crawley Observer Facebook page, said: “It’s a waste of money and looks terrible.”

Chelsie Edwards added: “It literally looks the same! But with a cheap looking canopy.”

Kevin Gordon said: “The whole thing has been very disappointing.”

The works started last September and included repaving, a new canopy, lighting, a community hub in Broadfield Library and CCTV improvements, with the council paying £419,000 and private stakeholders and the Safer Crawley Partnership the rest.

Cllr Brian Quinn (Lab, Broadfield North) welcomed the revamp but declined to comment on its value for money. He said the parade lacked a ‘proper retailer’, such as a supermarket.

Council leader Peter Lamb (Lab, Northgate) said: “Broadfield is the last of Crawley’s neighbourhoods to see improvements to its parade. Broadfield residents have repeatedly voted for candidates committed to doing up the Barton and, after years of delay under the last administration, its Labour who are delivering.”

Conservative group leader Duncan Crow (Con, Furnace Green) said: “The project was down to the previous Conservative administration. Originally it wasn’t going to be as much money because it was going to be funded by the private sector.”

Morrisons withdrew £20,000 funding to the project after it closed its store in the parade, which with associated delays cost the council £50,000.

A council spokesman said: “Unlike the majority of Crawley’s neighbourhood parades, Broadfield Barton is privately owned. Despite this the council was committed to improving the area and also worked hard to secure funding from private sector stakeholders to make the project more viable.

“The project, which included repaving, replacing canopies, improved lighting and CCTV, and the introduction of Broadfield Community Hub, will be complete this week which is in-line with the spring 2016 deadline. As planned, painting of the columns will be complete within a month.

“The council’s original hope was to remove many of the existing columns which held up the former canopy. Unfortunately it was discovered that these were originally built as downpipes to the drainage system and the cost of removing them and reconfiguring drainage for the whole area, which would have been required to facilitate their removal, was significant and not affordable within the budget.”

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