Artificial Grass and sandpit in Queens Square June 26 2014

LAST week's announcement that developer Burns and Nice will partner the borough and county councils in making £3 million of improvements to Queens Square, means some grand plans will be drawn up for Crawley in the coming months.

But it seems it doesn't always need something hugely ambitious to change people's perceptions. A patch of artificial grass and an inflatable sandpit set up temporarily in the centre of Queens Square appears to have made a big difference to shoppers.

The features will be there for about a month and certainly impressed Lukascz Karcz, who was playing football with his son on the "grass" when we visited last Thursday to see what shoppers thought of the additions.

The 31-year-old, from Godolphin Court in Southgate, said "I especially like this grass.

"It makes the square more colourful and if my little one falls over it is soft so he won't hurt himself."

One of a group of childminders gathered at the sandpit with their charges, Francesca Stephens, 36, of Heathfield in Pound Hill said: "This is great. We're all going to have a picnic later.

"We normally go to a toddler group at The Friary then to the park [Memorial Gardens]. I think maybe some flowers could also be put in to brighten it [Queens Square] up."

She said shoppers tend to go to County Mall rather than Queens Square for shopping, so different kinds of attractions are needed in the square to increase footfall.

Her friend and fellow childminder Kala Golder, 36, from Ifield Road in West Green, added: "Before I would just walk through Queens Square. I would never really stop.

"This is here for a month and we will definitely be coming back because it's free."

Marie Ono chose to sit and eat her lunch at the edge of the artificial grass and said it was a big improvement on the expanse of concrete slabs there before.

The 30-year-old, from Bickley Court, Bewbush, said: "Children can play on it or you can sit down on it."

Crawley Borough Council and West Sussex County Council will each be putting in £1.5 million to revamp the square.

What form the improvements will take is not yet decided but water features, new cladding on some of the square's uglier buildings and more seating are among the initial ideas.

Lawrence Gentis believes the bandstand should be the focal point of any refurbishments.

The 60-year-old, who lives in Horsham but comes to Crawley regularly, said: "The first thing when you walk into the square is this centrepiece. But it's got all these damaged culverts and the roof needs to be replaced."

Rose George, 62, from Spring Plat in Pound Hill, believes the dated appearance of some of the buildings around the square is putting people off from visiting.

She said: "It would be nice to see the buildings tidied up. The roofs all look a bit tired, but also some flowers would be nice.

"The planters look like a lot of nothing so maybe they could be redone."