BP fights back on petrol station


Oil giant BP’s appeal to build a petrol station on the Udimore Road on the edge of Rye was reviewed by the Planning Inspectorate on September 25. BP is appealing against Rother District Council’s decision to turn down its application.

The decision of the appeal could take months and so Rye News examined the appeal application.

BP’s appeal, produced by planning consultants Aitchison Raffety, runs into more than 100 pages. The focus of the report doesn’t just dwell on Rother’s decision, but seems to be a thinly veiled attack on the draft Neighbourhood Plan and states: “We have found the draft Rye Neighbourhood Plan to be unsound and contrary to national planning policy and advice.”

The root of the clash is the location of the petrol station and proposed retail outlet. While the Neighbourhood Plan lists the need for another petrol station and more retail space in Rye, it feels that the Udimore Road location is not the right one. The Neighbourhood Plan team felt that it should be located somewhere along the busy A259 and offered up two possible locations: the former Freda Graham School on New Road; and, Winchelsea Road East, both of which had been earmarked for housing. BP have countered that both locations are unsuitable because they are on the flood plain and therefore it would not be appropriate for the storage of petrol.

BP’s case states that there are “no major obstacles to the development in technical or practical terms and no objection in respect of highways or parking; remediation; surface water drainage, site security; and archaeology…and there were no objections to the proposal from the Environment Agency; County Council Highway Authority; Southern Water; Sussex Police; or from the County Council Archaeology department.”

BP points out in its submission that Rye is heavily constrained by environmental issues, such as flood risk zones, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Special Protection Areas (SPA), and Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI). The company goes on to state that: “The site at Udimore Road lies outside of the AONB and importantly represents a safe location for the storage of fuel given it sits outside of an area of flood risk.”

The appeal concludes that the proposed development “will not conflict with national and local planning policy and meets an important need identified in Rye. The proposals can be achieved with no harm to the wider landscape and there are no other suitable locations for the proposed use”.

BP is adamant that the Neighbourhood Planners “are continuing, and incorrectly asserting, that there are more suitable sites for a second petrol filling station”.

In response, Colonel Anthony Kimber, Vice-Chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group said: “In the context of the Rye Neighbourhood Plan, the BP proposal does not fit with the community’s development allocation of sites for multiple reasons. Rother, in its justification for refusing the proposal draws on aspects of the Rye Neighbourhood Plan considerations, including: beyond the development boundary; adjacent to the AONB; up a B road likely to cause an unsustainable ‘destination outlet’; on visible high ground beyond the Aroncorps site agreed for housing development (Valley Park) because unlike the latter, BP’s prominent greenfield site cannot be seen as having only limited impact on the land and townscape.

“From the start, BP has dismissed the Rye Neighbourhood Plan (now in V11) which reflects a wide range of comments including from Statutory Bodies. We have addressed BP’s points in our handling of the last formal public consultation. BP’s planners have made light of development boundaries and indeed the whole concept of communities making Neighbourhood Plans. As in other places they have been criticised for not assessing all the available sites. In Rye they only looked selectively at those identified in the Neighbourhood Plan.”

Colonel Kimber goes on to clarify that: “BP has suggested that sites with higher flood risk were unsuitable for fuel storage despite the fact they have developed similar high-flood-risk sites elsewhere and that there are other fuel and chemical storage sites in and around Rye.”

“In short,” Colonel Kimber concludes, “after the withdrawal of the supermarkets, the Rye Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group maintains the view that this is the right proposal but in the wrong place.”

It’s worth bearing in mind that the neighbouring Valley Park development on Udimore Road went to appeal and the developers won. BP hasn’t held back in reminding the Planning Inspectorate of that fact.

Image Credits: Planning Application document .

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  1. The proposed site is a good one and makes more sense than the ones designated by the Rye Community Plan. It is tedious only having one petrol station in Rye and they are expensive.

  2. National planning advisers make a habit of trying to rubbish neighbourhood plans. We’ve had that already re housing east of Rye. Our proposals have been rigourously vetted.

    • Everyone seems to be forgetting we have 2 large petrol stations just outside Rye, Jempsons at Peasmarsh which is only a couple of miles outside and the one on the road to Ashford neither of which are very far outside Rye we also have a small one in Rye itself, how many does one small town need.
      It seems to me that BP being such a huge company are trying to bully the community and the planning authorities into getting their way to stick a huge 24 hour a day floodlit station together with a retail outlet in the most prominent position they can get, in an AONB, outside the development boundary, it is absolutely outrageous that a big company like this should try their bullying tactics on the local community in this way and if anyone expects the petrol to be any cheaper they are likely to be disappointed.

  3. Debra, at the top of Udimore Road, on the right, just beyond the entrance to Valley Park.
    PS. I don’t live in Rye and I know.

  4. “BP have countered that both locations are unsuitable because they are on the flood plain and therefore it would not be appropriate for the storage of petrol”. What rubbish. Skinners is on the flood plain. Rye Chemicals is on the floodplain. Brenzett Petrol Station is on the floodplain, as is effectively any garage on the Marsh. The former garage opposite the Strand was adjacent to the river outlets with the tanks less than 20 metres from the water! The BP Garage, if built at the top of Udimore Road – on the very edge of Rye and on the summit of some of the highest ground around – would shine like a beacon over the surrounding countryside at night. Is that what they actually want, or is the purpose to catalyse further development on the high ground to this side of Rye – an area outside the zone of development and an area of designated outstanding Natural Beauty.

  5. First of all the petrol giants forced the closure of all our local petrol stations by insisting that they buy in larger quantities than they could cope with in order to get the same price as the big petrols stations and supermarkets. So people drove further to get a better price causing the local stations to close. Now everyone is complaining about having to drive further. Having forced all the small local businesses to close, the big guys (BP) come in saying they are going to make everybody’s life better. They have no ones interest but their own. The Udimore Road and the western approach to Rye will get much busier as even more traffic will change to this route instead of the southern ‘A’ road they should be using. The approach to Rye will be blighted by a generic, light polluting piece of urban sprawl. Rye is a very, very special place. Yes, it has a supermarket that closes on a Sunday and one petrol station but these are a small price to pay.

  6. I regularly drive to south London and the cost of petrol at BP service stations is invariably much higher than other smaller outlets. This week you can buy a litre at the Blueboys roundabout station on the A21 for £1.36 almost 10p dearer than Jempsons at Peasmarsh. The increase to traffic up the Udimore road will also be detrimental to the town as it is much narrower than the other A roads. Perhaps if BP will guarantee that the new Rye station will provide the cheapest fuel in the U.K. for the next fifty years then there proposal will be considered. Otherwise kick them into touch.


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