Having read the report in our lead article on the plans for Rock Channel, you may well, by now, be thinking “Hang on, Rye News hasn’t been exactly brimming with enthusiasm in the past about this development. Why the change of heart?” And, yes, there has been a change of heart.
Having, in another life, many years ago, worked for a development company and therefore having a degree of inside knowledge about such companies, this writer, as well as some of my colleagues, were not just a little cynical about the motivation behind the new arts centre – Bridge Point Studios, as it is now called. Having seen the proposal for it, however, and knowing that one of the powers behind Martello is a significant local philanthropist and benefactor, the scheme seems eminently believable and, what is more, good for Rye.
There are a number of examples, around the country, of old quayside and dockside areas which, having been allowed to become derelict, have been transformed by imaginative plans that, using the waterside ambience, have turned them into successful residential and business communities.
This scheme could well be another.
There are parts of Rye that are not far off 1,000 years old and this is, of course, one of the reasons why so many people are attracted to come here. But just because some of the town is beautiful and historic, it would be wrong to try to preserve the whole of it in aspic. The world moves on, whether we want it to or not, and so must Rye, but in a way that adds to the town rather than detracts from it.
We were concerned that the Studio buildings were there to enable the developers to over-develop other areas, but it is now clear that this was not the case and the Studios and performance area are a project on their own which will further enhance Rye’s reputation as a centre for the arts. With the fairly modest amount of new building, the open spaces and river walk, the area will be transformed for the better.
Some weeks ago, at a Rother District Council planning meeting, one of the (Bexhill based) councillors was heard to remark smugly that in a few years’ time “you won’t recognise Rye”.
He may or may not be right, but with continued careful and responsible development, it can at least be unrecognisable in a good way.
Image Credits: Rye News library, John Minter.