Will wildlife return to Crawley’s Rabbit Roundabout?

Construction is ongoing at Rabbit Roundabout - and the rabbits have moved out. Photo by Steve Robards SR1608770
Construction is ongoing at Rabbit Roundabout - and the rabbits have moved out. Photo by Steve Robards SR1608770

A warren of rabbits that have made a Crawley roundabout an unlikely attraction have hopped away from the area and may not return.

Fleming Way Roundabout in Manor Royal is known locally as ‘Rabbit Roundabout’ after the wildlife that have made the area their home.

Andrew Jones is frustrated by the loss of wildlife at Rabbit Roundabout

Andrew Jones is frustrated by the loss of wildlife at Rabbit Roundabout

But renovation of the roundabout - which will see a large ‘M’ sculpture placed there to welcome visitors to the business district - has caused the rabbits to leave the site.

Andrew Jones described the loss of the wildlife as ‘frustrating’.

He said: “You have this nice little pocket of really lovely wildlife and see these rabbits existing in an idyllic way - but it is in the middle of a roundabout.

“To tear it up without much thought for where those rabbits are going to go is pretty close-minded.

Work is set to last until early May. Photo by Steve Robards SR1608768

Work is set to last until early May. Photo by Steve Robards SR1608768

“It is a bit frustrating to care that little about the wildlife we have in a large, built-up town like Crawley.”

Andrew, 28, said he and partner Kim Mroz saw Rabbit Roundabout listed among the ‘things to see in Crawley’ when they moved to the town two and a half years ago.

The couple recently spotted between ten and 15 bunnies living there.

He said: “We would be sad enough to go on these walks to the roundabout.

“I was driving past and there was this big mound that had been torn to shreds. I realised they had completely destroyed the house where the rabbits lived.”

He also expressed concern that the rabbits would have had to cross the busy A23 if they left the roundabout naturally.

Steve Sawyer, executive director of Manor Royal, explained that contractors undertaking the works have been briefed and insisted they are ‘proceeding with more caution than usual’.

He said: “At the start of the project we conducted a number of studies to establish how we could improve the roundabout while retaining as many of the trees as possible and taking account of the rabbits.

“We found burrows underneath the rotting planters but not many actual rabbits. In fact a number of people have contacted us before to ask where the rabbits had gone.

“We considered a number of options to deliver the project to minimise disruption to human, tree and rabbit – some of which just weren’t practical. The contractors have been briefed and are proceeding with more caution than usual and under instruction to stop should large numbers of rabbits be found.

“To date the main excavations have been carried out and three rabbits were found and dispersed naturally. If the rabbits return to the roundabout after the project is completed that’s fine.”

He also stated that the project would provide benefits to Manor Royal.

He added: “The project has been designed to improve one of the major entry points to Manor Royal that has been consistently reported as a very poor quality.

“The planters are rotting and full of weeds and for many this is the first impression they have of Manor Royal is one of the largest business parks in the South East and home to over 500 companies and 30,000 people.

“That poor first impression reflects badly on all businesses trading here and the town in general. The project is designed to change that.”

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