“We want to be the South Korea of the South East,” says Crawley council boss

Natalie Brahma-Pearl, chief executive of Crawley Borough Council
Natalie Brahma-Pearl, chief executive of Crawley Borough Council

Crawley is a major economic region and should be regarded as the ‘South Korea of the South East,’ says its council’s chief executive.

Twenty five per cent of economic output in West Sussex is generated by Crawley despite the borough occupying just 2 per cent of the land, people were told at an Invest Crawley: Commercial Breakfast Briefing.

Crawley also has the second-highest job density in the country outside London with world-leading companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Elekta, Varian, Thales, and Boeing having bases here.

Natalie Brahma-Pearl, chief executive of Crawley Borough Council, told the meeting: “Crawley is a major economic region within the Gatwick Diamond and the greater Brighton area.

“It is recognised that as a borough area, it punches well above its weight.

“Its close proximity to London as well as Brighton, works in our favour with great transport links, including four stations.

“We’ve got all the benefits of London but with more competitive rates.”

She added: “We want to be regarded as the South Korea of the South East.

“We are more advanced than most areas in terms of digital connectivity and that’s what will drive business; how fast you can work.”

Centre for Cities had found Crawley to be “the most resilient place in England in terms of hard or soft Brexit”, she said.

She added: “So, it’s a really good place to invest.

“There are more and more cranes in Crawley and there’s a lot of development going on.

“People haven’t stopped investing and spending their money.

“Crawley is proactive and pro-growth, open to business and not a borough which rests on its laurels. We’re not taking about a visionary document or a plan, these things are actually happening.”

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Some of the construction is due to 1,000 new homes being built in Crawley town centre and a new Town Hall development including homes, commercial space and the county’s first District Heat Network.

A new scheme by The Commercial Park Group (TCPG) in Manor Royal was revealed at the meeting.

It has secured planning permission to develop two office buildings on Gatwick Road.

John Baker, chairman of TCPG, chose Crawley over London because of its connectivity, particularly the airport links, and the positive attitude of the council.

He said: “We want to enable the people of Crawley to work in a better way for themselves, which in turn will have a dramatic effect on staff retention, boosting the attractiveness of the Crawley area to major international companies.”

Councillor Peter Smith, Crawley Borough Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development, said: “We want to reduce congestion and help businesses.

“We’re trying to encourage more Crawley people to get the skills that businesses in the borough need.”

He added: “Crawley is open for business. The political leadership very clearly understands public-private partnerships and is helping people to come and invest in Crawley.

“There are opportunities for everybody and there are plenty more opportunities to come, we’ve got big ambitions going forward.”