Martello expands again

Rye Creative Centre springs back to life

In a surprise move, management of Rye Creative Centre on New Road has been transferred to Martello Developments.

An spokesperson from ESCC, said, “The agreement struck with Martello Rye Creative Centre Limited means the firm commits to run the centre as a community arts centre, investing in the building infrastructure to ensure it continues to provide community services including workshops and exhibitions.”

Martello has agreed to run it as a community asset on a long-term lease from East Sussex County Council (ESCC), which owns the freehold of the site. ESCC has been managing and maintaining the centre since the former head tenant, the charity ARRCC, went into liquidation in 2018.

The deal also includes an option for Martello to take over the freehold of the site after the first five years of the lease. Previously, the site had been earmarked for housing in Rye’s Neighbourhood Plan.

Housing earmarked to replace Rye Creative Centre

The Plan has allocated 30 dwellings on the site but stipulates that ‘the development shall not commence until the flood mitigation works by the Environment Agency for the eastern bank of the River Rother (Eastern Rother Tidal Walls) have been fully implemented.’ In addition to housing, the Neighbourhood Plan has identified that the site could also accommodate a petrol station and/or convenience store of up to 500sqm in size.

While the Centre has been closed since March due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the new management team will be upgrading the building ahead of its re-opening and working with tenants to agree a plan for them to return as soon as possible. The Centre is home to 30 local artists.

Councillor Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council, Rye’s representative on the Council, said: “It’s excellent news that we’ve managed to secure the future of Rye Creative Centre for the artists who work there and for the whole community. It’s a valuable part of cultural life in this part of the world and I’m looking forward to seeing it continue to flourish under this new arrangement.”

The acquisition of Rye Creative Centre by Martello Developments adds to its already substantial landholding around the town, including much of the land either side of the River Brede at Rock Channel and Rye Harbour Road.

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy , Rye Neighbourhood Plan .


  1. One has to wonder why Freda Gardham school was ever closed, strong rumours at the time was there was asbestos issues within the school, but if that is true,why is it still in use,if that was the case, and how much has it cost East Sussex County council over the years to heat and maintain this enormous complex, maybe if keith Glazier can not put a figure on this white elephant, a freedom of Information can be published on the true facts of the costs, of a building that was deemed at the time,not fit to be used as a school.

    • The story was ‘flood defences’. Now it’s to be housing!
      TheY spent 6 million on a school which is already too small. And built on allotment land illegally.
      Freda Gardham school only needed restoration work to bring it into the 21st century. It’s a lovely building in a beautiful spot.
      Everything is done the wrong way round in Rye.

  2. Thirty artists paying large rents (l think) contribute income to sustain the building. As a former studio holder, l know what a professional, fantastic centre this is and consider it a great asset to Rye. Note, this is a town that hosts a annual cultural festival involving visitors who help the economy. Art is important for all of us.

  3. Whatever the true reasons to close a school, and turn it into a creative centre for some, and the sacrifice of allotments,and buid a new school,which is i beleive is full to capacity, was completely wrong,nodoubt in 5 years time,and with the freehold sealed, we will see more million pound houses, and know doubt by keeping the numbers down,we will be told the same old mantra, that the site is not sustainable for any social housing .


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