Last Thursday, March 1, officials from the government body, Natural England, which is involved in planning and managing the latest local stretch of the English Coast Path, from Eastbourne to Camber, held one of a series of open meetings in the Rye area.
At an earlier meeting of Rye Town Council a Natural England official gave a similar presentation to councillors as government consultations take place on each of the many sections of the 2,700 mile England Coastal Path.
At the moment the plan is in the consultation stage as all stakeholders who live, work, or have a farm, or land, or a factory in the line of the path have to have their say.
A Natural England leaflet explained: “As well as a long distance walking route, there will often be a ‘coastal margin’, usually seaward of the trail, where people can explore more widely, if they wish, or relax and admire the view. This means that often, for the first time, there will usually be secure public rights to use popular coastal areas such as beaches, sand dunes and cliff tops.
“Once completed, the English Coastal Path will bring significant benefits to the coastal economy, providing a vital lifeline for local businesses such as shops, hotel and pubs.”
I was sitting with friends from Rye Harbour, when the route was discussed, especially the one along Rye Harbour Road. We were told that there were three possibilities. One is more or less discarded because it would be too difficult on health and safety grounds as it would be behind various factories.
The second was to go along the cycle path which already exists but which is not very scenic and full of pollution.
The third idea was to have a path parallel to the Harbour Road entered on the bend into the straight stretch beyond the shipyard as this would also allow beautiful views across to Camber Castle.
The problem we women felt was that walking there alone might make us feel vulnerable as the path would be quite isolated.
Our concerns were taken on board, but we were also told that there were limits to where a path can realistically be planned.
Anthony Kimber, responsible for much of the work on Rye’s Neighbourhood Plan (RNP), was at the consultation and wanted his comments to be included here.
He said: “I attended with the specific purpose of placing the path project in the context of the RNP as it is important that this project is harmonised with the Neighbourhood Plan and vice versa.
“I was able to advise the coast path team of the current NP Regulation 14 consultation and underscored the importance of incorporating into the Plan some text about the coastal path project.
“I was also able to discuss some possible routes through Rye pointing out where there could be the rights of way issues. The team said they would look at the NP and suggest some additional text. We pledged to keep in touch.”
The draft route, after having consulted all the land owners, should be done by the end of 2019 and the whole path finished by 2020. For any further information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 8026 8045.
Photos taken by Heidi Foster from NaturalEngland slide show at the consultation