A marina next?

Martello Marine, site of new restaurant and offices

Last week Rother District Council (RDC) approved Martello Development Ltd’s planning application for further development along Rock Channel which involves redeveloping a number of marine wharf facilities and replacing them with associated offices and, more controversially, a large restaurant complex.

The development, known as Sandrock Marine, had been opposed by both Rye Town Council and Rye Conservation Society (RCS). The town council’s objection said, ‘Insufficient off-street parking spaces; increased traffic on a narrow lane (pedestrian safety) and via a dangerous junction with the A259; adverse impact on the amenity of residents in the vicinity (late night noise and vehicle movements).’

Rye’s Conservation Society raised a similar objection saying, ‘Initial calculations indicate that the parking provision is inadequate for the restaurant (public) leaving aside the parking requirements for staff and the other B1 uses.

“RCS is concerned as to the capacity of Rock Channel to safely support the additional traffic particularly as it is a shared designated footpath and road, which potentially may become part of the South East Costal footpath. Given its relatively hidden location we believe that most users of the restaurant will come by car which will impose an additional issue where Rock Channel joins the A259.’

Neither Highways England nor ESCC Highways had an objection to the development though the Rights of Way team at ESCC has asked that the footpath along Rock Channel remain open at ‘all times, during and on completion of the development.’

The number of covers in the restaurant has been reduced from around 100, contained in the original application, to 70 – seated both in and outside. Correspondingly, parking provision has also been reduced from 16 to 14 bays.

In approving the application RDC laid out a number of conditions including the hours of operation – for both building work and once the restaurant is up and running.

The Sandrock Marine is one of several sites that could potentially be developed, on either side of the river Brede, that are owned by Martello Developments Ltd. Their arts centre and housing development, called Bridgepoint at the other end of Rock Channel, gained planning approval earlier in the year though it remains to be seen what they propose to do with the remaining land that they own, including a large site on the opposite bank of the river Brede alongside Harbour Road.

The recent publication of ESCC walking and cycling strategy mentions a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over the river Brede that would link all of these sites, though gives no further details of who will pay for it or when it will be constructed.

Proposed Rye Marina by Millwood Designer Homes Ltd

Those with a good memory will remember that this was amongst several proposed sites for a large-scale marina to provide moorings, a yacht club, housing and various restaurants and shops.

The subject of building a marina close to Rye has been raging on and off since the early 1980s with various plans submitted and subsequently defeated. The most recent one from the mid-2000s (pictured) also contains a proposed bridge over the river Brede. Since then the fields opposite Rock Channel have been designated as a ‘strategic gap’ in Rye’s Neighbourhood Plan, ‘where development is to be strongly resisted.’

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy , Millwood Designer Homes Ltd .


  1. Interesting too see Martello developments have had another planning application approved,despite access on to the narrow fishmarket road, all approved by East sussex highways and Rother District Council, but hang on a minute, didn’t East Sussex highways and a certain councillor object to a nearby planning application, because of the same problems limited access too and from this narrow lane.Martello developments the company seemingly buying everything up in Rye to enhance the town,and then leaving their sites like Grist mill, an eyesore on the town for years. As i have always maintained money talks in this town, but its time these developers practised what they preached, working with this town, and started developing sites like Grist mill, and not leaving it as an eyesore in this town.

  2. Interesting photo, Herbie Phillips old yard where I went to work when I left school in 1967
    A lot of Ryes history was created in the Rock Channel boat yards.

  3. the activities of of the busy and ambitious Martello Developments are clearly a good topic for Rye News.
    But what’s the link to a different developer’s abandoned, twenty-year old Marina proposal? I think this article has got itself into a bit of a muddle?

  4. But lets not forget the huge costs of the last developers,who were keen to give us a marina on a brown field site, but were also scuppered by opposition, from people not even living in this town,as i can recall, so now as the big money men eye up the potential for this brownfield site, it will be interesting to see their next move, and let us not forget a green field site was sacrificed,off Udimore road,after this site was rejected.

  5. It is really depressing how often ambitious schemes to change and improve neglected areas around Rye are opposed.
    Just because some lack the vision and insight to see the potential that surrounds us why must it always be prevented?

  6. The supposedly ‘neglected area’ of Rye, the riverfront, is anything but! It is an industrial area hosting a range of hugely industrious industries! This is what made and makes Rye a functioning Cinque Port and not a grimly sanatised vision of so-called waterside living and eating. Turning working boatyards into dreary restaurant buildings and charmless housing may represent a vision for some, but also a massive loss to others as centuries’ long links to the sea are wrecked in a developers understandable pursuit of profit. We aren’t just risking losing heritage but also a sustainable industrial future. I find the prospect of the old Phillips boatyard becoming a restaurant building desperately seeking a tenant and then fishing for depleted shoals of diners very depressing.

  7. When was the last boat built in Rock Channel? Probably not in this century, the fishing fleet lay on the slip at Rye Harbour to have a bottom clean and minor repairs but anything major is done away from here.
    It’s really difficult to hang on to the past, I started my working life in Rock Channel in the 60’s and even back then it was in a decline, I walk round there now and it’s a sad shadow of its former self.
    Eastbourne is a fine example of a working harbour but what’s it surrounded by? Housing.
    I’m afraid the boat industry in Rye has seen its finest hour and will never be a viable proposition again .
    How many people do the boat yards in Rye employ? You could count them on one hand I would think, welcome to the 21st century.

  8. If there’s to be development down there I think it’s really important that local businesses are given space to continue – they’re a hugely important part of what makes Rye special. It would be great if Martello produced a master plan for all the sites they own, I’m another one who is concerned that they have the potential to sanitise Rye one development at a time. Hopefully our planners can insist that they lay their cards on the table and have a meaningful consultation / conversation with the people who live here!


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