Controversial airport car park may not continue

Aerial Photograph showing previous use of site and the proposed expansion. Picture: Crawley Borough Council
Aerial Photograph showing previous use of site and the proposed expansion. Picture: Crawley Borough Council

A controversial car park near Gatwick Airport will not be allowed to continue.

Councillors have told a car parking company it may no longer use Southways Business Park, despite its managing director claiming they were not a ‘cowboy operator’.

Ace Airport Parking limited had applied for permission to more than double the amount of spaces at the site and extend the overall licence to use the business park for a further three years.

The company was originally granted temporary permission to use the land in 2013 for a period of three years for 442 parking spaces.

“The application that is now before us seeks to extend the area of temporary airport parking to a much wider development area,” a planning officer said at a meeting of Crawley Borough Council’s Planning Committee last night.

“Temporary permission was for less than half of the land current proposal,” she added, referring to the permission granted in 2013.

Tom Kiss, managing director of Ace Airport Parking, told the committee that his company had been operating for 24 years and accreditations to work at Gatwick.

“Cowboy operators do not have these accreditations,” he added.

He explained that the Southways car park is ‘critical’ to his business and a refusal from the committee would put 125 people out of work.

Stephen Joyce, councillor for Langley Green, said: “Airport parking should be within the airport boundaries – that is our policy.”

He said that parking on the site was ‘never wanted’, and added: ‘time is up and they should go.’

Peter Smith, councillor for Ifield, was one of those who voted to refuse the application but said he was concerned nonetheless about the loss of jobs from the company.

“I hope we will be able to work with the operator to mitigate the impact.”

The committee voted by majority verdict to refuse the application to continue the car park and extend the area to up to 1,000 places.

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