Gatwick Diamond Initiative objects to offices into homes plan

21 August 2014

A business-led partnership has heavily criticised a plan to turn offices in the heart of the Manor Royal Business District into 22 flats.

Rosemary French, executive director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, is critical of M & K Investment’s bid to change the use of ‘The Office Building’, in Gatwick Road, Northgate, from commercial to residential.


A change of use notification is expected to be made to planning officers in October under a controversial government policy called, Permitted Development, which allows offices to be converted into flats without planning permission.


Ms French said the scheme should be refused because a second runway at Gatwick Airport looks increasingly likely to be given the go-ahead. “This will result in the considerable loss of commercial property and Crawley’s ability to replace such space is and will be very limited,” she said. “We would urge the council to seek permission from government not to make any decision on this site until 2015 and only after the Government decides where additional runway capacity will be located.”


The business leader also believes that, with Manor Royal being one of the largest business districts in the UK, roads around the district are busy with traffic all day and the Gatwick Road building will not be a suitable location for residents or families. 


“Children will particularly be disadvantaged,” she continued. “They will find it difficult crossing the roads and, with limited cycling infrastructure, they will be forced to stay indoors during the school holidays while Manor Royal is at its busiest.”


Ms French has written to Henry Smith, the Conservative MP for Crawley, about the plan and asked for his help in preventing the scheme from going ahead.


She added: “Access to quality commercial property is currently extremely limited in this region and we regularly receive inward investment enquiries from abroad and the UK and we already have difficulty fulfilling their requirements. Although ‘The Office Building’ needs refurbishing to bring it up to the standards businesses expect today, it still plays an important role in fulfilling current needs for flexible spaces for start-up and growing businesses.”

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