West Sussex

‘Mark One’ New Town – Designated 9 January 1947

The second of the New Towns and designed to accommodate London’s overspill, Crawley New Town included within its designated area the existing market town of Crawley, the villages of Three Bridges and Ifield and a few surrounding hamlets. Crawley’s location has proved attractive to both industry and commerce, helped by excellent national road and rail communications and the international connections of London Gatwick Airport, which lies within Crawley Borough. By 2011, the New Town had nearly doubled its original intended population of 55,000 people, and it is currently exploring how to accommodate significant further growth.

Key facts:

  • Location: 45 kilometres south of London, 29 kilometres north of Brighton and Hove, close to the M23 and on the London-Brighton railway line. The local authority boundary, which runs tightly along the urban area, includes Gatwick Airport to the north.
  • 2011 Census population: 106,597, in 42,727 households.
  • Local authority: Crawley Borough Council.
  • Local Plan status: Crawley Local Plan 2015-2030 (adopted December 2015).

New Town designation:

  • Designated: 9 January 1947.
  • Designated area: 2,449 hectares.
  • Intended population: 70,000 (population at designation: 9,500).
  • Development Corporation: The masterplan proposed an expanded town centre and nine self-contained neighbourhood units, built largely within the pattern defined by existing roads and railway lines around Crawley. Each neighbourhood was to have its own shopping parade, primary school and playing field. Networks of parks, green spaces, allotments and footpaths and cycleways were also key. Development Corporation wound up 31 March 1962. Development extended beyond the designated boundaries in the 1970s and 1980s; these areas subsequently became part of Crawley Borough.

Figures taken from Crawley ‘5 minute’ fact sheet – TCPA New Towns and Garden Cities, Lessons for Tomorrow research, available here.

Council website:

Information about regeneration:

Local museums and archives:

Crawley Museum:

Crawley at 70: 

From the Archive

Read about the Crawley Plan in January 1950 edition of our Town & Country Planning journal here.