Following last week’s annual Town Meeting, Monday’s Town Council, and following Planning Committee, was inevitably going to involve discussions about the proposed supermarket on Gibbet Marsh in the draft Neighbourhood Plan for Rye.
Rother District Council’s (RDC) own plans set targets for Rye in terms of new homes and increased retail space, and a supermarket would help meet that target.
However Rye’s Plan Steering Group’s vice-chairman Anthony Kimber and RDC’s Cllr Lord Ampthill seemed to agree that there can now be no reasonable expectation that supermarkets will want to come to Rye. Kimber is due to meet Rother Planning Officers next Monday (April 16) and will therefore be pressing for their plan to be reconsidered.
Sainsbury’s and Tesco had both wanted to develop the Lower School site off Ferry Road as a supermarket at one point, and after long delays Sainsbury’s said they would look for another supermarket who might be interested and the site (shown above) was “For Sale”.
Rye Academy also said at one point they would be interested in the site for new school buildings, but are not now interested ; and instead a housing developer has stepped in. However the Town Council has objected to the number of homes proposed for the site.
But , as Anthony Kimber told the Planning Committee, “we have a target from Rother and we are duty bound to include it in the Neighbourhood Plan”. He added that Rother had also advised Rye to look at a site to the west of Rye, where most new housing was expected to be – and Gibbet Marsh is.
Development to the east, such as the former school site in New Road, is affected by the much delayed upgrading of the Eastern Rother flood protection walls by the Environment Agency and the county council are not going to sell that site off until the improved flood protection is in place.
If Rother agree that less retail space is needed (mainly because of increasing on-line shopping and home deliveries) an alternative mini-market may be sought, such as that proposed by BP , along with a filling station, on Udimore Road on the edge of town.
This however has met fierce opposition though, if RDC refuse BP planning permission, BP may well appeal that decision.
An alternative site for a garage and mini market might be the former Total garage site on Winchelsea Road by Strand Quay, as Kimber had seen these fitted into quite a confined space. However negotiations with the Environment Agency planners, because of the nearby quayside, might be quite challenging, he said.
Following last week’s Town Meeting the Town Council is expected to issue a Press statement about residents’ concerns, and the Steering Group is expected to have a meeting with them.
However nearly three and half years have passed since Rye News published an article by Anthony Kimber on the supermarket issue, and just as many uncertainties may exist today.
RDC Cllr Lord Ampthill told the Town Council at one point on Monday “I don’t think that’s how it’s going to unfold” but clearly he can not be certain.
Photo: Rye News Library