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Crawley is a town and local government district with Borough status in England and Wales in West Sussex, England. It is south of London, north of Brighton and Hove, and northeast of the county town of Chichester, covers an area of and had a population of 99,744 at the time of the United Kingdom Census 2001.
The area has been inhabited since Three-age system, and was a centre of ironworking in Roman Britain times. 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 a passing trade, encouraging the development of coaching inns. It was connected to the railway network in the 1840s.
Gatwick Airport, now one of Britain's busiest international airports, opened on the edge of the town in the 1940s, encouraging commercial and industrial growth. After the Second World War, the British Government planned to move large numbers of people and jobs out of London and into New towns in the United Kingdom around South East England. The New Towns Act 1946 designated Crawley as the site of one of these. 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 in a few decades.
The town comprises 13 residential neighbourhoods based around the core of the old market town, and separated by main roads and railway lines. The nearby communities of Ifield, Crawley, Pound Hill, Crawley and Three Bridges were absorbed into the new town at different stages of its development. As of 2009, expansion is planned in the west and northwest of the town, in co-operation with Horsham (district). Economically, the town has developed into the main centre of industry and employment between London and the south coast of England. A large industrial area supports industries and services, many of which are connected with the airport, and the commercial and retail sectors continue to expand.