Rye’s housing shortage


One of the main themes to emerge at the Rye town meeting was the shortage of housing in Rye.

It was notable that one of the Rother councillors admitted that he had no knowledge of the consents for Rother to build 2-3,000 new houses at the Bexhill end of the Hastings Link Road.  That would make a huge difference to the housing pressure throughout the district as people opt to live in a brand new community rather than compete for the few available homes in Rye.  The village could provide for all ages, all numbers and all incomes, houses and flats could be for purchase, rent, both private and social, and shared equity.  The last thing that is needed is a boring repetitive house design of 2/3 bedrooms!

It is difficult to believe that neither Rother, who has principal responsibility, nor the county council are gagging to see the site developed so they can benefit from the increased council tax.  Perhaps it is time for the residents of Rother to put serious pressure on our councillors to recognise the potential, even if the councillors cannot.

It is also difficult to understand why the site has not been put out to tender to masterplan the equivalent of a new large village in the district.  The master plan would have to include provision for a primary school, shops, medical facilities, religious space, recreational, sports and play space, a community hall and other facilities.  Some plots would be left empty for self-builders.  That would ensure variety and, as self-builders tend to include cutting edge design and facilities, it would encourage the larger developers to match, if not exceed them.

The utilities like gas, electricity, water, telecoms would be designed coherently and not be added piecemeal.  No huge disruption a few years down the line as one or other utility decide they need more capacity.  They would be tasked from the very beginning with ensuring not only sufficient capacity but also the ability to expand if necessary.  All utilities would also be undergrounded so the village would benefit from views uncluttered by poles for electricity and telecoms.  The super highway could be brought to East Sussex and the village would benefit from few dug up roads or potholes as they would be specified to modern high standards.

The village would be as light on the planet as possible, with solar panels or tiles, wind turbines and effective insulation.  Early buyers could work with the developers to give them the interiors they deserve within their price bracket.

Job possibilities already exist on the south western end of the Link Road where already offices and factories have been built with space for more.

Whoever is tasked with the masterplan should have lots of prior experience and have a proven track record in involving the local surrounding communities so that the outcome would be welcomed rather than resented or ignored.

What’s not to like!

Image Credits: John Minter .

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  1. Additional pressure on housing stems from the significant number of empty second homes and of course the unregulated explosion of buy to rent / rent to rent and let’s not forget the vast array of Airbnb’s.

    Additional regulation in this area and perhaps increased taxation on such properties would alleviate the pressure on housing.

  2. I wonder if Rother has ever compiled a list of empty properties and second/holiday homes in this area. Many are owned simply for investment, not permanent residence. With building costs rocketing, isn’t it time to look for example at all the property owned by the MOD, much of which is vacant and falling down because our military has been massively depleted in recent years. Surely much of this could be revamped. Building a whole new village would be a great idea if it wasn’t for the fact that we probably already have enough homes, which could be lived in if we weren’t so obsessed with profit from property.

  3. Without wishing to be too controversial, those that can afford second homes probably would have no problem in affording to pay, say, quadruple council tax on these (in turn, the money raised used locally) and if they cannot afford this huge council tax bill, perhaps this would release some properties back onto the market for the benefit of local people that work and live in these affected areas. Just a thought.

  4. The plan is not for a ‘village’ but a north eastern extension to the town. Area 1 has two developed sections now – Persimmon on Furnell’s Way – all sold and lived in for several years, Bovis now selling – very popular. In due course builders will develop the other sections. Check online via Google maps and the builders websites. https://www.rother.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/north_east_bexhill.pdf We also have the David Wilson Homes on Rosewood Park, Little Common. Do come and have a little walk round in the real world.

  5. As a newcomer to Rye ( due to move in next week ) can I say that there doesnt appear to be a shortage of housing for sale -what there appears to be is a shortage of AFFORDABLE housing for those on lower incomes .

    Raising more council tax on ” second” or ” empty” homes will not raise enough money to make a significant difference and give the LA funds to add to housing stock.

    But then even if it did the Right to Buy legislation means that any such ” affordable housing ” built within a few years goes out of the Public sector within a decade or even sooner and the housing stock shortage is back to ” square one” for new families / young people .


  6. Taxing or banning second homes will not solve the problem as these properties are mostly unaffordable to people with average incomes.

    The big issue is that many people who work in the town can no longer afford to rent here because the market rent is now £1,200 pcm for a two bed.

    Many businesses in the town are currently struggling to find staff as a result.

    It would be more beneficial if second home owners rented their houses for a reduced, affordable rent to local people in exchange for being able to stay in the house for a few weeks per year.

    It’s an unconventional approach that would require trust and co-operation on both sides, but if people on lower incomes are forced out of the town we will all suffer.

  7. I agree with Clare but the people who buy and rent out second homes are doing it to make money so why would they rent out a house for £800 when they can get £1200, Rye has become a victim of its own attraction and as always it’s the locals who suffer.
    £320,000+ for a former council house on Tilling Green sums it up, way out of a working first time buyer, every attempt to build is met by one objection after another, the plan for Rye say areas have been identified but nothing happens, shopping for working class people who are becoming less and less are a joke.

  8. One must agree with Tony, towns a villages around us expand, whilst the town remains stagnant, new houses that were marketed for over a million pounds,are know rented out for nearly 3k a month areas within the town with planning permission like ferry road site and the grist Mill site,remain huge eyesores in the town, when are the powers to be, going to wake up, too this scandalous situation.

  9. Quite agree Tony every attempt to build in rye is met by objections after another if it’s not flood risk it something else, Building plans have been identified but nothing ever happens.There’s a massive area for building at Freda Gardham school an area probably bigger then Kings Avenue still enough room for a petrol station, and a food outlet this large area goes right back to the schools old swimming pool, adjacent to the swimming pool an area which had a football pitch and a large play area.
    So who ever owns this land and premises whether it’s ESCC or Rother District council get a move on and make something happen.

  10. It’s about time something is done for hard working local people, as previously stated rents are rising and getting a mortgage is impossible unless you can put down a large deposit. I feel so sorry for young couples trying to find a property.

  11. Just under one in five Rye properties (17%) are currently being bought as second homes, according to an informed source. This reduces the housing stock available to local people, inflates home prices and makes it difficult for people on average salaries to live in Rye. There’s not in fact a shortage of accommodation in Rye; it’s just a distribution problem. Think how many couples or single people live in three- or four-bed houses, where bedrooms remain unoccupied. Most of these larger homes are, of course, not affordable by young families on average salaries. Banning second home purchases and purchases for rental, as Whitby proposes, may provide a solution for Rye, but it would prove controversial. The boom in ‘buy to rent’ is merely another example of the economic polarisation of our society into the wealthy and the have-nots, with the main thing the latter lack being property. For anyone fortunate enough to own a second property in today’s market, rental income is ‘easy money’ and everyone knows this. The core problem affecting housing is the uncontrolled escalation in this country’s population, which creates demand. Demographic growth is being recklessly encouraged by our governments. If population growth ceased, only replacement housing would be required, not this insane free-for-all that destroys our environment and quality of life. As Linda points out, do we actually know the number of rental properties or Airbnbs in Rye? Tony is right in saying that landlords will always seek the highest return on their investment. There is a risk that Rye will become a ‘ghost town’ frequented by wandering tourists. This can already be seen by the dominance of tourism-related shops in Rye and the increasing scarcity of what could be called ‘useful shops’. The problem with the Freda Gardham site is flooding, I’m afraid. Anyone buying a future property there, or anywhere near the rivers, would be foolish, given the expected 1m rise in sea level by 2050 (latest figure). The properties would essentially be worthless. An electric vehicle-charging facility on the site (not a petrol station) could be a good idea. Rye’s topography and historic value renders it almost impossible to expand the town without losing the ‘compact shape’ (as noted in the Rye Neighbourhood Plan) that makes it such a unique place and a tourism asset. Sadly, this shape is already being distended by extensions such as Valley View, while dense housing as proposed for sites such as the Lower School site will simply make Rye feel significantly more urbanised. We all need to think more deeply about what we want this town to look and feel like in the future. What we need is the right balance, and an environmentally sustainable solution.

  12. Once the Eastern Wall of the river rother is completed, whatever materialises at the Freda gardham site will be up to martello developments, who I beleive purchased the site just like at Rock Channel where they have the garage at the base of the property, they will overcome the flood problem, people should ask why Valley Park was sacrificed, as most people know the reason, that was because a brownfield site on the harbour road was rejected, as for losing the shape of the town, the best place for houses without spoiling Rye,would be out to the river Tillingham,around the tilling Green estate, with the developer building up the banks,with no cost to the environment agency, there has been talk of a bridge over the Tillingham,and sited properly, there is also an overgrown field behind Tillingham avenue which could be accessed for bungalows, for people who’s families have grown up,and that would release a lot of 3 bedroom houses for expanding families, of course there will be hue and cry from some, but this part of Rye is the best place for the town to expand,with the developers also building a bridge at their expense, something that has been talked about,like so much in Rye by some, but never materialises.


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