Cyprus Place

Rye Hire in Cyprus Place

Rye Town Council at its meeting on Monday, September 7 was alerted by Rother district councillors of Bexhill’s intention to press on with the redevelopment of the Rye Hire complex at Cyprus place.

Some councillors were aware of the recent agreement of the business plan of the new Rother “arms length” housing agency, Alliance Homes (Rother) Ltd. This sets out a plan for 1,000 homes by 2035, with only about 350 planned as affordable units across Rother District according to the small print in their supporting documents to cabinet last week. A number of sites are identified mainly owned by Rother District.

What ignited Rye Town Council was the prospect of the loss of a long standing business, Rye Hire, in its accessible location. After some brief but heated exchanges the Rother district councillors were invited to convey back to Bexhill the opinion of Rye Town Council. Mayor Rebekah Gilbert asked for a letter to be sent to the senior executives and councillors at Rother District Council (RDC) stating: “Although the availability of affordable accommodation in Rye needs to be expanded as a matter of priority, the town council opposes any initiative that would result in Rye Hire vacating the Cyprus Place site. This business has traded successfully for over 25 years, providing valuable services – and employment – to Rye and its surrounding parishes” Also a number of staff members are reserve firefighters and thus add hugely to the community.

As always, there is a lot of background to such sudden announcements. The Rye Hire site was originally the Rye Borough Depot before RDC inherited the Borough’s assets in the 1970s. In 2013 the review of land across Rye identified the Cyprus Place site as one for future development. In 2014, the neighbourhood planners were required to assess all land across Rye (Parish) with potential for future development. The site assessment from that time sits on the Rother neighbourhood plan website. The former depot in Cyprus Place was listed for future development, but because of the long lease (then 10 years) was not allocated formally in the neighbourhood plan but left as a “windfall” for the future. At that time we knew that the owners of the land, RDC, could decide to develop once the Rye Hire tenancy had expired. Jumping forward to 2020, one of the recent big initiatives in Bexhill has been the establishment of Alliance Homes (Rother) Ltd. This has an extensive business plan covering its finances and intentions, one of which is the development of the Cyprus Place land.

For the record, the 2014 site assessment highlights several points about the site. We noted the former industrial nature of the land and the possible need for any decontamination; the need for a site specific flood risk assessment and importantly, when the time came, the opportunity to improve the character of the site to fit better with the surrounding residential properties. Our estimation, confirmed by Rother, was for around seven dwellings with some small retail / commercial opportunity more in keeping with the locality. Since then parking has become an increasingly contentious issue and the design of any development there would have be carefully considered. It is noted that Rother has raised the potential from seven to 20 dwellings!

On a wider point, as neighbourhood planners, we have raised before the question of how best to achieve more “affordable housing” (council houses in old language) for local people in Rye. One of the factors is the growing number of second homes (probably around 400). This was a key plank of the neighbourhood plan. Some of the sites that we identified such as the Rock Channel and Lower School site (Ferry Road) show little promise of delivering, and whatever happens with the Cyprus Place proposal, the opportunities are focusing on the former Freda Gardham and Tilling Green school sites, both still owned by East Sussex County Council. These should be part of any future housing discussion in Rye.

Image Credits: Anthony Kimber .


  1. Does Bexhill care about Rye,what a good question ? Sadly slowly they are selling off all the Rye family silver, at the expense of a successful business that has served all in Rye for the last 26 years, and what are we going to see in its place, the same old story the site is not viable for affordable or social housing, so more homes for the weekenders, buy to let, or holiday lets. Come clean you Rother district Councillors who are elected to represent our town, tell us the truth what is being built on this site,as it seems the number of units allocated has already nearly trebled.

  2. Rye Hire would be a great loss, as set out by the Mayor.
    One detail:- ‘affordable housing’ isn’t a translation of ‘Council Housing’. 85% of the market selling price is not affordable for hundreds of local people.
    The nearest equivalent would be Social Housing, which could be ‘affordable’.

  3. I know you won’t like to hear this but, East Sussex as a whole is a small area. An ‘Us and Them’ approach helps no-one. We need to look at what is best for the region. For years Bexhill, population 45,000, has been under-represented and subsidising smaller towns (for instance Rye population 9,000, but including the other small towns in Rother) as they have been the major contributor to council tax – and also the place where new homes were provided – without proper community facilities. We all need to shoulder the various burdens.

  4. Disappointed that once again essential local facilities are being taken by a seemingly remote council. Unless this proposed development will be solely for local people at reasonable costs. Unfortunately developments in Rye and Camber are being swamped by holiday rentals and Airbnb’s, or they are luxury properties that only the very well off can afford. Nothing for locals that live and work in the area.

    Rye Hire offers an extremely good service that is used extensively by local residents and also gives employment to local people to close it would be a disservice to the Community.

  5. As a local ex plumber I have been asked where we can get locally matierials for property maintance
    In Rye harbour City Plumbing has ceased trading Rye Do It Yourself is now a paint shop there is no shop on the Rye area that supplies tool or building matierials except Rye Hire
    To get rid of a good viable and necessary business is madness
    There is in Camber a car park that was a putting green there is in the Rye catchment area schools and fields all could be used to build more houses for the London commuters (sorry second home owners )

    • Rye Hire is a jewel in the Rye crown, offering so, so many products and services at very reasonable prices. A business, that it is our business!

  6. I do hope that all of the people commenting here, and many many others are also lobbying Rother District Council to protest at their refusal to renew the lease on this site, to the owners of Rye Hire. The loss of this service, because that is what Rye Hire offers, is a disaster for the small builders, roofers, plumbers and DIYers in Rye and the surrounding villages. Rother have already carried out an ecology survey on the site so plans are advanced. The plan is for a housing development. I will be asking our two District Councillors what they have done to attempt to protect Rye Hire and prevent a sell off and I urge others to press them similarly.

  7. Thank you for alerting us to this Anthony. It seems there are two separate issues here.
    One, Rye Hire and where will it relocate to if indeed the owners want to continue the business? I think from what you write their lease will expire in 2020 so Rye Hire must have known they would either have to close or relocate if the lease was not renewable. As you and others say, Rye Hire is a valuable asset to the town; it will be great shame to see it go.
    Two, how the complex at Cyprus Place will be redeveloped and the issue of affordable housing.
    Can the general principles relating to affordable housing in Rye which you outlined in detail in the Neighbourhood plan, be applied to any future proposed development in Rye since a time constraint didn’t allow you at the time of writing to officially address Cyprus Place?

  8. I am a local resident who lives close to the business & have very recently spoken to the owner about this. He informed me that he has no wish to vacate his business from this site but is being forced to move so it can be re-developed. He was told that RDC would not be renewing his lease & he was given notice to quit, which he is not happy about. As I live close to the site, we do not want this development which would be overlooking & severely affect our properties & I’m sure all other residents that live round the site would feel the same. I simply can’t understand why there are sites such as the Lower School site that have been vacant for over 15 years, which could easily be re-developed, are left empty. Whereas a vital local business including workers who are firefighters is being forced out of the town. Rye Hire is a valuable business for all our local tradesmen including holiday makers who make good use of his bike hire. I feel we must do all we can to stop this development.

  9. I would just like to make our situation clear at Rye Hire. We are not closing our business but will need to relocate – hopefully to a site which will be as convenient to our customers as Cyprus Place. A retained firefighter also works here so location is key for the continuing safety of our community. The lease has been renewed three times so far and we were hoping for another renewal – especially in these very uncertain times.

  10. Thank you Andrew for explaining the situation Rye Hire faces. It saddens me to think you, a successful business serving the community and local businesses (even in the pandemic which says a lot for your staff dedication etc), want to renew your lease but cannot, due to a proposed redevelopment of the site.
    The word greed comes to mind.
    I imagine there are no other comparable sites in the centre of Rye which will accommodate your requirements which include access for your retained firefighter so you’ll be looking to Rye Harbour where customers will have to use cars to get to you. Not good.
    Is there anything we can do as a community and customers to help you?


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