Council at odds over nature letter


We reported recently on the plans for the new Discovery Centre at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, and the Town Council, at their meeting on Monday (September 18), were asked by the Nature Reserve to provide a letter in support of the development to go to Icklesham Parish Council, under whose jurisdiction (before going up the line to Rother), the proposal comes.

There were mixed feelings about this and Cllr Pat Hughes probably summed up the views of some others by being “appalled” at the size of the proposed building with associated problems of access and, in particular, traffic both from visitors – who would also need somewhere to park – and from vehicles visiting to service the Centre. If conference and meeting facilities were required, other venues were already available such as the Sailing Club, Village Hall and even the vhurch. The new structure, she felt, went against the wild and imperfect nature of the rest of the Reserve.

To this Cllr Harkness added his thoughts that the idea, suggested by the Reserve for revenue from school parties was likely to be largely wishful thinking in the present climate of restricted school budgets and he was also concerned about the potential negative effect on other local businesses.

But not everyone opposed the plan. Cllr Stuart drew comparison with the Kino cinema which, despite dire predictions from some councillors at the time, had turned out to be a success and an asset to the town. The additional visitors would be good for Rye Harbour and he reminded councillors that the Nature Reserve was not, as so often described, “wild” at all, but man made. He was supported by several councillors, including Cllr Rivett who declared an interest, being on the committee of the Nature Reserve, but stated that it would play a big part in the education of children and would not be taking custom away from other businesses. 

Agreement with this view came from several others and, seeing the possibility of a split Council, the deputy Mayor Cllr Boyd suggested a compromise and proposed that a letter should be sent supporting the idea of improved facilities for the Nature Reserve, but falling short of expressing support for the complete plan.

This classic example of a compromise was probably the best that was likely to be achieved in the circumstances and was passed on a majority vote.

Photo: Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Image Credits: Rye Harbour Nature Reserve .

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  1. Re. the above article – Can someone explain to me how a 60-seater catering facility will not take custom away from existing businesses in Rye Harbour if the Nature Reserve expansion scheme does not plan to increase the number of visitors actually visiting Rye Harbour?
    As I am unaware of long queues outside the current local catering facilities what is the point of a 60-seater café if increased footfall is not the goal?

  2. I believe the Centre will be of benefit to all concerned. More visitors will come and places such as Bosun’s bite will thrive simply because they are excellent. They close at 3ish. Presumably the Centre will provide standard catering for longer hours and not be in direct competition. I know there are public toilets in the village but to have some on the Reserve would be…well…convenient.


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