Crowd protests over store plan

Gibbet Marsh car park,- largely empty

Dr Anthony Kimber faces the side meeting

A new supermarket earmarked for Gibbet Marsh in the Rye Neighbourhood Plan proved such a contentious idea before the start of the annual Town Meeting (when Rye Town Council reports back on its activities) that an audience of about 60 people was ushered into a side room to talk in more detail about the proposal before the main event.
Most of the people attending the session at Tilling Green Community Centre on Wednesday April 4, had apparently not looked at the Neighbourhood Plan beforehand or attended any of the open meetings that had been held over the past years.
The houses around Gibbet Marsh had been leafleted last week about the proposal (apparently by a local resident) and it was because of this information that they were there and they were, almost without exception, extremely angry about it.
Facing them was Dr Anthony Kimber, vice chairman of the Plan’s Steering Group and the driving force behind the development of this comprehensive and detailed piece of work on behalf of the Town Council, which has been developed so that Rye residents have a statutory planning document to which they have contributed, and on which they will finally vote, in a referendum.
It emerged from the questions and general discussion that many residents in the room did not know of the Plan, or know that it had any value in the wider sense, which it does, and felt strongly that there had been no communication or information. When they questioned the need for another local supermarket in any form, Dr Kimber had the unenviable task of informing them that Rother District Council (RDC), the local planning authority, had laid a statutory requirement in their district plan on the development of retail space, some of which will be accommodated in small pockets of development, but this will still require a further larger site for a foodstore. If this requirement of the Plan is to be altered, this has to be done by RDC itself.
Finding this hard to believe, some individuals expressed their views in very forthright terms. The main arguments against the proposal related to the actual need for more supermarket space, in view of the enlarged Jempsons store and the increase in online shopping ; the loss of green space, and that a new foodstore would further decimate the High Street. The proposal could also result in local planning blight for the houses close to the marsh. It was pointed out that there was likely to be disturbance at night and  increased traffic flow during the day, exacerbated by the railway crossing’s proximity. Movements of heavy goods vehicles would need a wider entrance and would impact on the structure of the adjacent houses.
Homes blighted until now by the Tesco and Sainsbury’s plans

It would also mean a loss of parking spaces for the town and cut across cycle pathways and other recreational activities.
Additionally, members of the audience were unhappy with the Neighbourhood Plan website which they felt was not fit for purpose. Some others, more used to the website design, had found it a useful tool.
Dr Kimber explained why this site had been chosen, following the withdrawal of the Tesco and Sainsbury’s supermarkets from the land they had bought in Ferry Road, which had freed up the vacant Lower School site by the Queen Adelaide and the railway crossing on Ferry Road, for housing or other development.
The precise proposal for a supermarket foodstore on Gibbet Marsh would mean that 50% of the space, from the sewerage works to the railway line and encompassing the tarmac area, would be the area under development. The other 50% of overflow parking green space would not be affected. This was greeted with undisguised disbelief, and the point was strongly made that this was impossible to confine any such building and associated works and parking only on this particular part of the site.
Dr Kimber informed the gathering that he would bring up all these points at a meeting he will have with RDC about the Plan in a fortnight’s time. He also agreed to a  special meeting organised by the Town Council to be set up to enable further discussion.The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Michael Boyd, then drew the side meeting’s proceedings to a close as it was time to open the Town Meeting.
However, the debate spilled over into this forum, and on representation from a questioner, Mr Richard Fairhall, the Town Clerk, minuted the deep concern felt about this proposal, and that a large number of people present objected to it. It was unfortunate that local RDC Councillor Lord Ampthill, on being asked to respond, was unaware of this proposal, but was able to say that no specific plans of any kind were tabled at RDC at this juncture. It was further minuted that the deputy Mayor, Councillor Michael Boyd, would chair the follow-up meeting.
It was pointed out that every two weeks a planning meeting is held which is open to the public, who can ask questions, and that Dr Kimber is present to keep the planning committee updated. It was clear that not everyone in the audience knew about this.
The audience talks to the panel

Finally, following another speaker who explained the need for a better supermarket with a more reasonable price range, a straw poll was held on whether there was the need for a new supermarket food store in Rye, comments about the price and standard of the produce in Jempsons Local in the town centre having been made during the question-and-answer session. Interestingly, on a show of hands, the outcome was 50/50. A straw poll in the earlier pre-meeting (mainly of nearby residents to Gibbet Marsh) was overwhelmingly against the development of any new supermarket.
Those wishing to be informed about the next meeting are asked to submit their email addresses, either on the Plan website or by email to the Town Clerk at Rye News will ensure that the date and time of the meeting are published.

Photo: Gillian Roder and Rye News Library

Image Credits: Rye News library.


  1. I am appalled at the proposal for another retail outlet in Rye. It feels as if Rye is under siege, with this suggestion and the othe application for a petrol station at the top of Udimore Road. If these go ahead Rye will be transformed from a rural town into somewhere to pass through. I live outside Rye and use Rye as my main non supermarket shopping destination. I go elsewhere for my supermarket and fuel needs. Shopping is changing. RDC needs to be lobbied. I will certainly make my views known to Councillor Carl Maynard, Brede Valley and Leader of the Council.

  2. I do think major developments need to be communicated better. The supermarket consideration was a small part of the very large Rye Plan – and today 6/4/18 – is the last date for comments to be submitted. Personally I’m concerned about the development of a second supermarket. I think it will intensify traffic problems, may detract from businesses in the Town centre, will make the existing (extended) supermarket less viable, and reduce car parking availability for the visitors that represent an important part of the local economy. I note that the Plan sets demanding criteria, which I hope will be rigidly applied if we get that far. (But its hard not to entertain doubts when it also states that the second petrol station should be on or close to the A259, and we’re now presented with a planning proposal for a petrol station development in an elevated position up the narrow and congested Udimore Road….)

  3. Perhaps it is time to tackle Jemson’s on their high prices, quality of their fresh and chilled foods, the appalling labelling which makes it a nightmare to try to work out use by dates and their seemingly inability to get pricing correct at the till. If they price and quality match the Co-op at Winchelsea Beach, many of us would not support the building of a new supermarket in Rye, let alone being forced to shop outside Rye. It’s time Jempson’s started to offer us what we want and support the local Rye community.

  4. IMPORTANT: At the Annual Town Meeting one of the contributors suggested that, in addition to Nat West, Lloyds would also be closing. Lloyds Bank has made no such announcement.

  5. The web site for the Rye Neighbourhood Plan may be fit for the purposes of the steering group and an adequate and full record of their work, but it appears it is not fit for for the purpose of communicating their proposals to the residents of Rye. The majority of the people at the earlier meeting would not have been aware of the proposal to earmark Gibbet Marsh as a supermarket site except for the efforts of a few people who put flyers through doors and stuck up posters the week before the meeting.
    The boards at the town hall were of little help with 3 boards containing no info on the current proposals and a town map with coloured numbered zones with no info as to what the zones actually referred to, you had to read or scan the 94 page document lying on the table to find out any detail.
    It seems that little effort has to have been made to actually “CONSULT” and take the process to the residents of Rye. To constantly re-itterate that “it’s been on the plan since ….” is irrelevant – the consultation is taking place now.
    There needs to be an extension to the “CONSULTATION” period with an adequate display and explanation of the main proposals. This should be taken to the people of Rye with the boards displayed in locations around the town and with a prominent display in the library.
    Saying that costs have been kept down to the lowest level has proved to be a false economy, potentially at the expense of much of the population of Rye.

  6. Rye economy depends on its tourists and they need a supermarket which opens on a Sunday. I agree with Marie’s comments above re.the Coop in Winchelsea Beach and Jempsons. We shop at the Coop regularly and Waitrose in Tenterden but not at Jempsons.

  7. A proposal for a supermarket
    Here we go again people complaining about having supermarket in Rye again
    I wish these moaners would get off their horse and carts.
    Tenterden also had these moaners about a Tesco’s a walking distance to the town the shopkeepers in the in the town are kept busy from these who wish to walk into the town (a 2 hour car park at Tesco’s ) also full employment for many the same will happen here if a food store is proposed and built.
    Especially if the store is an Aldi or Lidl cheaper but good quality food and other items.Jempson in rye is a very good food store no doubt about that but shopping in Jempson’s especially for a young family is way to expensive a saving of maybe £20.00 or £30.00 a week to shop elsewhere.A Tesco’s bus picks up many shoppers from Rye to shop in there Hastings store,isn’t that telling you something.
    I and my family are all for a new supermarket in rye.
    Vic vicarey

  8. I do think the citizens of Rye, many of whom are newcomers to the town, ought to have been appraised of the 2013 Strategic Plan for Rye with particular relation to the plan for there to be two supermarkets which was set out in the light of the renewed housing allocations for Rye. This information may or may not be tucked away on the Neighbourhood Plan web site, but should have been more recently posted, or better still made public in the local media. The proposed site in Gibbet Marsh for a second supermarket is of course quite unacceptable for all the reasons expressed.


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