BP's new plan gets thumbs down

BP's plan for a filling station at the top of Udimore hill had included a large retail unit

BP’s revised planning application for a retail unit and filling station at the top of Udimore Road in Rye was unanimously rejected on Monday by Rye Town Council’s Planning Committee.
The new application will now go to the planning authority, Rother District Council (RDC), though BP has already appealed against Rother’s rejection of its earlier proposal.
BP has made a number of changes to reduce the visual impact of its proposal as the Udimore Road runs along a ridge between the rivers Brede and Tillingham towards the High Weald, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
However Rother’s consideration of BP’s plans may be influenced by repeated central government cuts in funding for local government. This has affected both the numbers of staff employed as well as running costs. RDC may well therefore be unwilling to refuse BP’s application if a possible appeal is going to be costly in time and money.
BP’s attitude however may be affected by Monday’s news that a Brenzett garage on the A259 (about 10 minutes drive from Rye) is seeking planning permission for 24-hour opening.
The Udimore site may seem closer than Brenzett, but delays at Rye’s level crossing and further delays caused by parked cars in the narrow B road, when added to the growing volume of traffic on the Udimore road (including very large agricultural vehicles in addition to commercial traffic), may make going out on the A259 to Brenzett seem to be an easier option.
BP’s proposal includes a large retail unit (as many filling stations now have) equivalent to a mini-supermarket, and this concerned councillors as much as the filling station.
With 24-hour opening, more traffic may be encouraged up Udimore Road between 10pm and 6am when local shops are normally closed, and any additional retail outlets were wanted closer to the town centre – not on the very edge – said councillors.
The drawing (top) shows the size of the site and the size of the retail unit (centre) as compared to the filling station (on left). The drawing below shows the length of the site along the Udimore Road.

A plan of the site’s area, alongside the B2089 Udimore Road where it flattens out, shows how large it is compared to nearby housing and the farm

Traffic along the road has increased greatly in recent years, partly as a result of the Valley Park housing, but also because satellite navigation devices steer drivers towards the B2089 as a useful shortcut from the A21 towards the Channel ports which avoids Hastings entirely.
Councillors and many local residents see that traffic as a growing problem but the highways authority does not. This is because the Department of Transport’s simplistic criteria has been “How many deaths?” – and no deaths means there is no problem!
Deputy Mayor Mike Boyd wanted to know why BP needed a site on a B-road, which was a difficult road already, and why they wanted a site no-one else wanted – and for which two exploratory proposals by the Valley Park developer had both been recently turned down.
Indeed there was a very clear gap between the Valley Park housing and BP’s proposed site (see plan above).
BP’s response, from their planning consultant who attended the planning meeting, was that there were environmental constraints (ie flood risks) elsewhere in Rye, but at least two councillors thought a company as large, and as experienced , as BP could cope with flood risks. Other companies did on Rye Harbour’s industrial estate.
Cllr Bernardine Fiddemore thought the site, with its retail unit, needed to be in or very near the town centre and the A259 was the natural place for it – and the Brenzett garage proposal is on the A259.
Anthony Kimber, vice chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group (NPSG), repeated the view that this was the right proposal, but in the wrong place.
However some would argue that we do not even need a new garage.
However he also said that Jempson’s recent significant supermarket extension in the town centre by the station (which has taken nearly a year to complete) meant the NPSG had to revisit their plan to look again at the “retail shortfall” which may now be less.
He added that the proposal added to the risk of drawing traffic up this B road and “it is not sustainable to draw people up this hill”.
BP’s consultant said the Neighbourhood Plan still had to pass an examiner and would have to comply with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and drew particular attention to paragraph 216 which said plans must comply with the NPPF.
However a tiny footnote in bold said: “Footnote 40: unless other material considerations apply” – and Rye’s town councillors thought there were a lot of considerations.
So did local residents, including a farmer from opposite the site, as well as Rye Conservation Society, and other councillors not on the Planning Committee. So “no” was the unanimous vote.

Drawings from BP’s application


  1. A garage on the Udimore Road would be very convenient for us as we live at Broad Oak and frequently make the car journey to Rye. Getting petrol is quite problematic at the moment. Brenzett is a long way from where we live. The garage in Beckley has closed, Jempson in Peasmarsh is not easily accessible from us, Sainsbury’s in Hastings has a petrol station but I would prefer to shop in Rye. I would welcome a petrol station and a convenience store on the Udimore Road.

  2. Personal convenience is not, thank fully, the basis of acceptable support for or against a planning application. I live very close to Broad Oak and I plan my shopping for fuel around my othe transactions. Sainsbury’s , Brenzett, Peasmarsh , provide adequate options for me.
    Additional traffic on that road up to the Ridge will not be a good idea as I have responded before.

  3. Rye Town Council’s recommendation that RDC should turn down the revised BP planning application will have widespread support. I am not yet sure of the formal reasons for rejection: but the 14 members of Rother’s Planning Committee (I am not one of them), drawn from across the District, will give the whole matter very careful consideration when they meet to reach a decision.
    The article is full of speculation: and I would draw attention to the fourth paragraph which is wholly misleading. “Rother’s consideration of BP’s plans may be influenced by repeated central government cuts in funding for local government….. RDC may well therefore be unwilling to refuse BP’s application if a possible appeal is going to be costly…”
    This is irresponsible tosh. The decision will be taken on the merits of the application without reference to these irrelevant considerations.

  4. Note from the editor: I fear I must take issue with Lord Ampthill’s assertion that financial considerations might influence a decision is “irresponsible tosh”.
    In my article “An interview with….” in Rye News 11/8/2016 with RDC Chairman Paul Osborne, the following exchange took place:
    Me: …. there is often some frustration on planning decisions, especially when Rye Town Council recommend rejection of any particular scheme but Rother subsequently approve it.
    Osborne: Planning is a legal process and Rother D.C. is the authority that is required to implement that process. If we are presented with a development plan that fulfils all the legal and technical requirements and we turn it down, the architects can take it to appeal and are likely to win. The appeal process ties up both money and staff time so the invariable decision will be to pass it.
    Me: Regardless of Rye’s preferences
    Osborne: Probably, yes
    It would seem, therefore, that Charles Harkness may not be writing such “irresponsible tosh” after all.

    • Sounds to me that Mr Osborne is a sensible fellow only doing his job, and you are barking up the wrong tree. Have a think.

  5. We do not want this BP petrol station in Udimore Road for all the many reasons expressed. Since I have been living in Udimore Road for the last 18 years I have noticed a big increase in traffic movement, especially with very large lorries using this road. It would obviously lead to more traffic if a filling station was built up the hill. On the matter of convenience I personally have no problem filling up my car with fuel at Jempsons in Peasmarsh. It is reasonably priced too compared to many petrol stations. My wife uses Sainsbury’s as she frequently drives into Hastings and Bexhill in her car for shopping etc and finds it convenient for her to fill up en route. What’s the problem?

  6. ‘We don’t want this….’. Who are these ‘we’? You mean ‘I’.
    Or perhaps you mean the same ‘we’ who opposed the Valley Park development; opposed the wonderful Kino; and who now oppose the extension of opening times at Lamb House?
    Why on earth express a preference to drive miles to Peasmarsh to refill your car when there will be a BP station 2 minutes away from your house?
    Employment for ten people apparently…..

  7. The top of Udimore hill is an AONB the proposed bp station and large retail outlet would be prominent and very noticeable for miles around especially as it is intended that it should be open 24/7 and will presumably be floodlit.
    The increased traffic up and down Udimore Road would also add to what is already a traffic hazard as there are always cars parked all the way up on one side causing problems with large commercial vehicles such as Jempson haulage lorries etc., then of course you have the added problem of the railway crossing at the bottom of that road
    A far more sensible site would be in the centre of town on the Winchelsea road where Hastings borough council have acquired the land along the river for redevelopment, there used to be a petrol station there previously and it is a perfect site in every way as it is convenient to everyone in the town and wouldn’t cause any traffic problems, or is that too easy a solution for the powers that be.

  8. A brightly illuminated edifice in this location should be welcomed as a navigational aid for shipping in the channel during the hours of darkness. With a little more effort and imagination, I dare say it could also be incorporated as a visual navigational aid for aircraft arrivals into Gatwick.


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