Highways oppose Martello plan

A259 junction with St Margaret's Terrace

Martello Developments Ltd, the company behind the proposed Bridge Point development on Rock Channel have been busy over the summer with three planning applications lodged with Rother District Council (RDC).

Martello’s biggest development in Rye, the Bridge Point housing and arts scheme, has had a knock-back from both East Sussex Highways and Highways England. Both organisations have responded to the planning application with concerns regarding visitors to the arts venue crossing the A259 at the junction of St Margaret’s Terrace.

The original application was for the conversion of an existing warehouse into a new multi-purpose arts centre, that includes workshops, gallery space and rehearsal space with three live/work artist units on the first floor. In addition, Martello want to demolish the existing riverside building and replace it with a new two-storey riverside restaurant with holiday-let accommodation on the first floor. The final part of their planning application is for the construction of five additional riverside dwellings and to convert part of the warehouse into three new mews dwellings. The application includes their plan to landscape the public areas to create a new public park, upgrade the riverside walkway and re-position the existing road.

Over the summer months East Sussex Highways submitted their objections to the scheme on the grounds that the developers had submitted ‘insufficient information’ and commented that the developers would have benefited from asking for advice prior to submitting the final application. One of their main concerns relates to a ‘significant increase in footfall’ of visitors to the restaurant and arts venue and they felt the single-lane road leading into Rock Channel was too narrow to accommodate both pedestrians and vehicles.

Highways England also raised several concerns relating to the development’s proximity to the busy A259 and have asked Martello to submit more information, especially on the siting of the proposed pedestrian crossing and their alterations to the St Margaret’s Terrace junction. Highways England have advised RDC not to approve the application in its current form ‘because of the potential for harm to the Strategic Road Network’.

The proposed new building on Grist Mill

In addition to the Rock Channel development, Martello has also submitted two further planning applications along the River Brede. One is to demolish a single-storey bungalow called The Cabin on Rock Channel and replace it with a two-storey house. The other is for the redevelopment of the Grist Mill site on the opposite bank of the Tillingham on Winchelsea Road. For this site they are proposing a commercial development on the ground floor and two three-bedroom flats on the first floor (see picture). Parking will be provided for both the flats and the commercial unit to the west of the building, on land leased from the Environment Agency that once housed a petrol station.

All three planning applications have been submitted by RX Architects, a local practice based in the Creative Centre. If you would like to comment on one or more of the applications, you can do so via Rother’s planning portal.

Image Credits: Rye News library , Planning application http://planweb01.rother.gov.uk/OcellaWeb/viewDocument?file=dv_pl_files%5CRR_2019_1779_P%5CDesign+and+Access+Statement.pdf&module=pl.


  1. This is a significant development for Rye, and it is a shame to see Highways being obstructive and not a little bit arrogant. They should be facilitating such improvements, not hindering.

  2. I appreciate that the art of journalism is to elicit interest in the topic under discussion but there is a limit to such licence: the body of the text does not fully justify the ‘Highways Oppose Martello Plan’ heading but the more reasonable (and more accurate) ‘have concerns’ obviously doesn’t cut it for your writer!
    Whatever Martello proposed for their Bridge Point development it was sure to raise some hackles but until the plan/any plan was submitted it was all ‘pie in the sky’.
    With the information now in the public domain, it is time for the serious talking to begin – but loaded titles are not constructive -. unless, of course, the purpose was to initiate meaningful public engagement ….
    Maybe some in Rye preferred the ‘old’ state of play in this part of the town: empty warehousing, rubble-strewn concrete, pot-holed roads and poor public spaces.
    With some further consideration given as to how the development meshes with the town’s existing infrastructure, Rye should welcome all that the proposed Bride Point development offers.
    I could say ‘with open arms’ but that might be pushing it!

  3. Totally agree with Mark re development. Rather than be negative and encourage refusal from Rother work with the Martello team to iron out worries.
    Rye is lucky to get this investment and such an amazing new venue which is open for everyone who would like to visit the events.


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