Rye enters 21st century living


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.

The existing warehouses, soon to be transformed

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 .

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  1. As an ‘ordinary’ Ryer living below the citadel area and in close proximity to the proposed development in Rock Channel, I agree with the sentiments expressed in John Minter’s article. I have seen the plans on display at the public consultation and spoken to representatives of the developers and I was impressed by their declared aim to enhance the area, make it more attractive and accessible to the public, and to bring benefit to the community in general. I may be accused of naivety, but I hope that they will prove their philanthropic credentials and lay to rest the common assumption that all developers must be greedy and selfish. Hope springs eternal.

  2. All very well, but what about the massive increase in traffic this development will generate? When there are special events taking place in Rye, such as the Jazz Festival, Arts Festival, Bonfire Night Procession, and many more, as well as new ones, such as the Christmas Special Celebration, the hotels, b and b’s /restaurants and cafes, are bursting at the seams, there is not a parking space to be found anywhere. The proposed developments at Rock Channel Quay have been promoted as to put concert hall/exhibition space/theatre, in order to become a World Class venue. So how is little Rye supposed to cope with all the additional cars and people who will be flocking here? I have seen the plans to turn the whole field at Gibbets Marsh car park into a massive car park for 850 cars. I feel for the Rye residents who live in the vicinity, who will suffer noise, fumes, increased traffic and even less parking spaces for their own vehicles.
    Will local people be buying or renting the new houses built on this site? I think not.
    I am all for redevelopment, but not on this scale in this way.
    Let us not forget why developers make these vast investments to “enhance” areas. I wouldn’t use the word philanthropic.

  3. I really must agree with j barber, nothing has been said about the appalling road into Rock Channel, will the theatre goers park at Gibbets marsh, I think not, with land and house prices at an all-time high in Rye,the flood gates are wide open, but by building more houses that most local young families cannot afford, is not the way forward for our town.

  4. First off it is not up to private developers to build low cost housing. That is the choice of governments and it is very sad to see that the Conservative government we have in London and in Rother and across most of East Sussex care not if working families are able to find affordable housing. They approve the expansion of private tennis courts on Military Rd but not affordable housing. Yet, people around here still vote Conservative. As to the development discussed in this article, it turns a derelict area near the centre of town into a vibrant, attractive place to enjoy cultural activities, walk and live. The people buying those homes will shop in Rye, use local tradesmen and contribute to the tax base of the community. We will no longer have large Jepson lorries or buses with their fumes and damage to roads, being parked in this area. We will have a resurfaced road to walk on, a footpath by the river and a place to have a meal and drink by the riverside. And to the remark about philanthropy, I am not sure the writer is aware that the arts venue is being funded privately by someone who wants to give back to the town. The philanthropic aspect for this developer is in essence donating a large, new arts venue to Rye that will be open for all to use, including improved access to Gibbets Marsh parking…at their cost. As the development progresses we need to hold them to account of course, but the alternative of letting this area remain an area of unattractive warehouses with a potholed road filled with mud seems nonsensical.

  5. With the weather changing fast, looking at the amount of mud coming off that site yesterday, and being deposited on the a259, surely the infrastructure, like tarmacking the approach road should have been the contractors first priority.

  6. The Rock Channel/St Margarets Terrace road is a public highway which is unadopted by the Council. The Council/Highways(?) have chosen not to repair the road. Martello Developments are planning to do this with the development at their own expense. The development is good for the area of Rye and should go ahead.

    I commiserate with those that need affordable housing. Does this even exist in the South East – let alone Rye.

  7. Affordable housing is always something of a misnomer, specially when it comes to London and SE England. A great majority of families that need ‘affordable’ housing will never be able to purchase a house: the cheapest house for sale in Rye today (I checked) is a two bedroom house in Ferry Road at £235,000, the next is £255,000, also 2 bedroomed. I grew up in a council house in Rye; a large 3 bedroom with a lovely garden: the real damage was done in the 80s when the government allowed these houses to be sold into the private sector and then for various doctrinal reasons prevented councils from replacing them for the last 38 years – yes a great windfall for some but huge loss for families now, and entirely predictable. Paul Camic is correct: it is not the responsibility of private developers to build low cost housing.

  8. Has planning permission been granted for the Bridge Point Studios by Martello? Have they made their planning application yet? I thought it was due by the end of the year 2018?


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