The planning application to redevelop the former Thomas Peacocke school site off Ferry Road (also known as the Lower School site) has been approved by Rother District Council (RDC).
The development will see the demolition of the Queen Adelaide pub, to allow better access to the site away from the level crossing, and the erection of 63 residential dwellings, comprising 38 houses and 25 flats – all non-affordable. And the land will have to be raised before building starts.
In its report RDC said: “Considerable time has been spent by planning officers to negotiate an acceptable scheme with a particular focus on relocating the access away from the level crossing on Ferry Road, providing a layout that reflects the heritage of Rye and a good level of amenity for future residents, ensuring flood risks are mitigated, and maintaining a landscape buffer along the eastern boundary.”
The report goes onto explain that none of the 63 dwellings on the site will be classed as “affordable” but the developers, Plutus Rye Ltd, will be contributing £77,948 to provide affordable housing elsewhere as well as £783,405 in Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and possibly a further £421,092 in “new homes bonus” (which is currently being reviewed by central government so may not be paid).
During the two year consultation, where a revised application was submitted reducing the number of new homes from 72 to 63, a number of respondents raised their concerns about the removal of trees and scrub that has grown alongside the railway track. One objector was concerned about the effect on local wildlife, and highlighted “existing badger habitats, great crested newts and the presence of turtle doves.”
Rye Conservation Society also submitted a number of times outlining its objections. It reiterated its concerns on the loss of tree cover adjacent to the railway line and on the impact on biodiversity.
Flood risk mitigated
Flood risk is an ongoing concern for much of Rye, this site included. To prevent flooding, the ground level of the site must be raised by an estimated one metre and the Conservation Society raised concerns that building the “raised island” will have a major effect on traffic and local roads.
The Society estimates 14,200 cubic metres of infill soil will be needed, delivered by around 2,000 eight-wheeler dump trucks, “each carrying between 13 and 14 cubic metres of loose fill” soil. The Society rightly points out that all the lorries will have to come either along Udimore Road, with its parking issues, or through the town via Ferry Road.
RDC have said that work cannot start before 8am and must end by 6pm, Monday to Friday and between 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. If one assumes that one eight wheeled dumpster filled with soil arrives at the site every hour for five and a half days a week, it will take 36 weeks just to raise the land – and only then can the construction of the 63 homes start.
One thing RDC has kicked-back on is removing the verge of vegetation alongside the “railway line, calling the developers proposed scheme “unacceptable’. As a condition Rother has said the verge needs “strengthening of the buffer planting at the railway boundary to provide improved habitat for nesting birds” as well as, ‘”to provide suitable habitat for nesting birds, to enhance the appearance of the development and to ensure that the proposed development does not prejudice the landscape setting and enhances the local landscape.”
Questions have been raised locally on how an adequate verge of vegetation and trees along the railway line to support wildlife can be retained while also squeezing in 63 homes onto what is a constrained plot of land.
Image Credits: Rye News staff , Kevin McCarthy .