Housing plan playing fields are ‘underused’

Crawley Borough Council has defended its proposal to use two playing fields in one neighbourhood for housing developments.

Housing sites is one of the main issues in the council’s Local Plan - known as Crawley 2029 - which has been put out to public consultation.

The plan, once adopted, will provide the basis for future planning decisions in the town for the next 15 years.

A document published last week laid out three suggested sites for housing: 30 homes at the former council depot at Goffs Park, 200 at Breezehurst Drive playing fields and 60 at Bewbush West playing fields.

And, while Cllr Claire Denman (Con, Pound Hill South & Worth), Cabinet deputy leader, pointed out that Crawley was required to build 540 new dwellings each year, Cllr Michael Jones (Lab, Bewbush) branded the use of two playing fields in one neighbourhood as “a development too far”.

However, a council spokesman said a £10,000 review of the Open Space Study and Playing Pitch Assessment, carried out by consultants JPC Strategic Planning and Leisure Ltd, indicated that Bewbush had more outdoor sport space than it required.

He added there was the possibility that both sites could be used for a mixture of housing and open space - including playing fields.

He said: “Both sites were identified as being underused and in need of some improvements, particularly to drainage.

“Through the process of the urban capacity study they were also identified as offering a good opportunity for high quality housing developments if the open space constraints were assessed and concerns satisfied.

“The consultation will form part of the considerations for whether these sites should be allocated for housing or retained as formal playing pitches.

“This has been undertaken in light of the very clear need for housing which is emerging from Crawley’s own population, and recognising that choices between competing land uses need to be made.”