Rother District Council has approved planning consent for the new 60-bed nursing home to be built in Rye Foreign.
The decision, which was largely predicted, was made after a 45-minute debate at the council’s Planning Committee, which voted ten to one in favour of approval.
It’s safe to say the decision came as a relief to the nursing home co-developers, Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital and Greensleeves Care. One supporter turned to another after the meeting and joked: “See you there in ten years”.
The £8m nursing home project had received some significant opposition from residents adjacent to the site and from those who believed the facility was too large and should not be built inside the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Opposition also came from all six GPs working at the Rye Medical Centre, who said the extra workload from the nursing home would place an unacceptable clinical burden on them.
Planning Committee members took on board the doctors’ concerns but the majority clearly did not believe they were a deal-breaker. At the meeting the case for approving the home focused largely on emotional reasons why a nursing home was needed. The developers’ agent claimed that objections had been noted and addressed.
However, one objector observed after the meeting that as the nursing home will sit well to the west of the current development boundary, opening up pristine hillside land to the north to development, the Memorial Hospital should guarantee never to develop or sell this land — as this would further destroy Rye’s surrounding natural landscape.
RDC Councillor for Rye, Lord Ampthill, although speaking in favour of the nursing home development, conceded that, “The one thing that’s a concern is that the doctors haven’t backed this scheme to the hilt”.
A number of conditions were imposed on the nursing home developers regarding issues such as environmental protection and land remediation, waste management, wildlife protection, archaeological investigation, drainage and privacy screening for nearby residents.
[Editor’s note: There has been opposition to this development, much of it on the grounds mention above, but also no little support. Acknowledging this later Barry Nealon, Chairman of Rye, Winchelsea and District Hospital issued a statement saying, “I am delighted we have a decision and can now move on. I will be writing shortly to thank the 400 people who signed the petition in support of the planning application.“]
Photo: Rye News library