Crawley has a ‘shortage of appropriate business units’ in the town centre, the council’s cabinet member for the economy has admitted.
Yesterday (Thursday November 26), the Crawley Observer reported that Overline House is set to be redeveloped.
Cllr Peter Smith, cabinet member for property and economic development, said he is ‘delighted’ that the landmark building next to Crawley Railway Station will undergo redevelopment.
He said: “We are delighted a planning application is going to be coming forward for this site. We have been working with the developer and the owners of the building to bring that forward.”
However, Cllr Smith added that the town centre lacks office space due to units being converted into homes.
Businesses and organisations based at Overline House have been told to leave the site within six months.
He said: “We have been campaigning to get the government to stop the conversion of office buildings into residences in the town centre.
“We have been lobbying Henry Smith to support us, and he said he is not supporting us on that.
“We know there is a shortage of appropriate business units in the town centre and we have to do something about that.”
John Donaldson, executive director of Arora Property, which owns the building, said the redevelopment of the site could be a ‘major catalyst’ for the regeneration of Crawley town centre.
He said: “We have tried repeatedly to let the building for short term tenancies, given the age and the relatively dated and obsolete condition of the building.
“Even with a low rental figure we were unable to complete any significant tenancy agreements.
“As our attempts have proved unsuccessful, we have been progressing redevelopment proposals for the property.
“In the meantime, the Arora Group continue to manage the building and have served notice on the small number of current occupiers in order to mitigate operating losses as the building has been under-occupied for some time.
“Whilst the majority of the tenants in the building are on one month’s notice, out of courtesy we have decided to give 6 months notice to allow them to plan their move from the building in order to ensure a smooth transition.
“Plans have not been submitted at this stage and will hopefully be submitted soon as this site represents a major for landmark within the town centre and could act as a major catalyst for its regeneration.”
Overline House was acquired by Arora Property in 2011.
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