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A master plan was developed for the establishment of new residential, commercial, industrial and civic areas, and rapid development greatly increased the size and population of the town over a few decades.
The town contains 13 residential neighbourhoods radiating out from the core of the old market town, and separated by main roads and railway lines.
The nearby communities of Ifield, Pound Hill and Three Bridges were absorbed into the new town at various stages in its development.
In 2009, expansion was being planned in the west and north-west of the town, in cooperation with Horsham District Council.
Crawley developed slowly as a market town from the 13th century, serving the surrounding villages in the Weald.
Its location on the main road from London to Brighton brought passing trade, which encouraged the development of coaching inns. Gatwick Airport, nowadays one of Britain's busiest international airports, opened on the edge of the town in the 1940s, encouraging commercial and industrial growth.
It is 28 miles (45 km) south of Charing Cross (London), 18 miles (29 km) north of Brighton and Hove, and 32 miles (51 km) north-east of the county town of Chichester.
Crawley covers an area of 17.36 square miles (44.96 km and was a centre of ironworking in Roman times.
Work began almost immediately to prepare for the expansion of the town. This envisaged an increase in the population of the town to 50,000, residential properties in nine neighbourhoods radiating from the town centre, and a separate industrial area to the north.The church has a 15th-century tower (rebuilt in 1804) which originally contained four bells cast in 1724.Two were replaced by Thomas Lester of London in 1742; but in 1880 a new set of eight bells were cast and installed by the Croydon-based firm Gillett, Bland & Company. Crawley railway station, at the southern end of the High Street, was built in 1848 when the Horsham branch was opened from Three Bridges to Horsham.An area known as "New Town" (unrelated to the postwar developments) was created around the railway level crossing and down the Brighton Road; the West Green area, west of the High Street on the way to Ifield, was built up; and housing spread south of the Horsham line for the first time, into what is now Southgate.The population reached 4,433 in 1901, compared to 1,357 a century earlier.
Three-quarters of the population had piped water supplies, all businesses and homes had electricity, and piped gas and street lighting had been in place for 50 years.