Plans for a multi-million pound cycling and walking network will be subject to a lengthy public consultation after being given the nod by Crawley Borough Council.

As part of its Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, the council has come up with a list of 16 priority routes, which would cost a total of £23.5m to bring up to scratch.

The routes include Gatwick Airport to the town centre via Manor Royal and Northgate; Maidenbower to Three Bridges via Furnace Green; and Bewbush to Three Bridges via Broadfield and Tilgate.

The draft plan was approved at a meeting of the cabinet on Wednesday (June 24) and will now go out to public consultation until the autumn.

Gurinder Jhans, cabinet member for environmental services and sustainability, said of the plan: “What it does is it proposes physical infrastructure improvements in specific areas to create safer and more attractive and more accessible routes to encourage more people to cycle and walk.”

The improvements could be anything from widening footpaths and cycleways to refurbishing paths and improving crossings.

Government policy requires all local authorities to have such a plan, and the entire West Sussex initiative – involving all district and borough councils – is being led by the county council.

A report to the meeting listed a number of potential funding sources, such as the Department for Transport’s Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy, the government’s Towns Fund, and the use of Section 106 contributions and Community Infrastructure Levy paid to the council by developers.

Mr Jhans said walking and cycling levels in Crawley were below both the national and county averages.

He added: “I found this quite surprising and concerning, especially when we consider the fact that Crawley really has some of the raw ingredients to be an ideal place for active travel.

“Some of the reasons for the low rates is to do with safety and how we have quite busy roads and often quite fast traffic.

“There’s also poor connectivity of the routes themselves, and the infrastructure isn’t in particularly great shape.

“People have often complained about having insufficient space on the cycling paths and walkways and often worry about having collisions with one another.”

Chris Mullins agreed.

Mr Mullins had been a regular cyclist until he was involved in an accident with a car. Since then he has been literally teaching himself to ‘get back on the bike’.

He said: “I can understand why people around Crawley might be reluctant to cycle because our roads are very congested a lot of the time and certainly on some of the roads people drive at great speeds.

“You don’t always feel safe.”

Looking to the future, Mr Mullins said he would like to see the network linked with other towns.

There was a poignant feel to the discussion at times, with Peter Smith (Lab, Ifield) reminding members that work on the plan had been started by the late Cllr Geraint Thomas, himself a keen cyclist.

Mr Smith said: “I think it’s fantastic that Crawley Borough Council is taking the lead in active travel, giving our residents alternative options, delivering potential technical solutions that will help deal with the climate emergency.

“I know Geraint is looking down on us and wishing us well.”


Full list of routes and estimated construction costs

Gatwick Airport to Town Centre via Manor Royal and Northgate – £2.38m

Forge Wood/Manor Royal to Three Bridges £0.58m

Pound Hill to Town Centre via Three Bridges £2.24m

Maidenbower to Manor Royal via Three Bridges £1.03m

Maidenbower to Three Bridges via Furnace Green £0.61m

Tilgate Park to Town Centre £0.4m

Tilgate/K2 Crawley to Town Centre £1.76m

Pease Pottage to Town Centre via Tilgate £1.9m

Bewbush to Three Bridges via Broadfield & Tilgate £3.2m

Broadfield to Town Centre via Southgate £1.07m

Kilnwood Vale to Town Centre (linking to Horsham) £2.01m

Ifield to Town Centre £0.85m

Ifield Green to Town Centre £0.48m

Lowfield Heath to Town Centre £2.29m

Manor Royal (west) to Town Centre £1.5m

Ifield to Manor Royal via Langley Green £1.2m