Friends of the Landgate were pleased to be invited to a meeting with Rother District Council (RDC) and the other stakeholders on the future of the Landgate Arch.
The meeting was opened by Councillor Lord Ampthill, supported by Brenda Mason, Service Manager, Community and Economy. The stakeholders represented around the table in the Town Hall were from Rye Town Council (RTC), Rye Conservation Society (RCS), friends of the Landgate and a representative from the Museum who is also secretary of RCS. It is worth noting that the organisations there were the same as those invited to the November 27 meeting, though some of the individuals present were different.
The meeting had been called for two reasons:
To consider the terms of reference for a small Action Group to take forward the preservation and future use of the historic Landgate Arch at Rye.
A comprehensive draft briefing and proposals for a possible way forward for the Landgate put forward to RDC by the architect Mr Michael Jones in his capacity as a Rye resident, following the meeting on January 28 of the friends of the Landgate.
A lively discussion set off the meeting, and it was made absolutely clear by everyone to Lord Ampthill and Brenda Mason, that the first step to any proposals had to be the completion of the basic emergency work to the Landgate as outlined in the Thomas Ford Report, to prevent further damage particularly from pigeons, vegetation and water damage.
In turn, RDC made it plain that they want to divest themselves of the asset, because of the increasingly serious financial situation of the council. Whilst everyone in the room, with some reservations, could only agree with this, it was pointed out that no one is likely to take on the Landgate unless some basic emergency works of sufficient worth to change the appearance and structural deficits of the Arch was carried out. Comparison with the appearance of the Ypres Tower owned by the Museum, were mentioned and are pictured here.
It appeared that RDC might possibly be prepared to carry out such work, if the other stakeholders were prepared to act together in partnership with them.
Eventually, it was agreed to form an action group, with two representatives from each of the organisations present, the chairman being the mayor of RTC or his/her deputy, to ensure that this “relatively intact” (ref: M.Jones) building has a plan for its future sustainability and an ongoing revenue stream.
The purpose will be to “lead and influence the future of the Landgate, seeking through partnership, innovation and expert advice, to achieve a settled and sustainable future for the building”. The importance of the engagement and commitment of the local community would be a vital part of this.
The members of the meeting had also considered the briefing paper tabled. Its content helped inform the debates about possible uses for the Landgate in the future, with concerns expressed that these ideas might impact on the need for works to be carried out in the short term. Others felt that both ought to be considered together, as both would be required. Following a long and animated discussion, turning on the volume of usable space, the need for a measured survey was identified and means of access considered, as this would be needed before other uses could be looked at.
It was decided to invite the author of the briefing paper to the meeting of the action group, to further consider strategic options and plan together for the short and long term future of this ancient monument.
All the meeting members expressed the hope that this really could be the start of improvements to the Landgate Arch, and to ideas and decisions moving forward.
Photo : Rye News Library