Love Lane’s ‘Fort Knox’

Light column at The Grove level crossing

Neighbours have again listed their concerns on Rye College’s second planning application this year. The new application to Rother District Council (RDC) is to erect eight ‘lighting columns’ across the staff car park. The lights will be six metres in height and located within the car park that is bordered by The Grove and Love Lane. As a way of comparison, the current street lights along The Grove and Love Lane are around 4.5m in height. 

Local residents have objected to their height and the resulting light pollution. One objector went onto say, “The recent construction of high industrial ‘Fort Knox’ fencing and this proposal for ‘floodlighting’ is unsympathetic and out of character in Love Lane.”

Rye Conservation Society (RCS) has also raised an objection likening the College’s lighting plans to those of an edge-of-town retail park and not suitable for a quiet residential neighbourhood. 

These objections are hot on the heels of the College’s other planning application – to construct a multi-use games area (MUGA) on the playing field at the rear of the school.

In its most recent letter, the Conservation Society felt that Rother needs to consider both applications together and not in isolation. In a strongly worded letter objecting to the scheme it criticised the College for not taking the time to consult with local residents in advance of submitting either planning application.

The large number of objections may have caught the College by surprise. Nearly 50 people have submitted comments, including a petition from 20 local residents, and the vast majority object to the scheme, mostly on the grounds of light and noise pollution. 

In the case of the football pitch the “light columns” will be 15m in height and will tower over neighbouring properties and the landscape (see photo above of a similar “light column” at The Grove level crossing). 

The noise from the football pitch has also caused concerns with neighbours. In a recent submission to Rother from MRL Acoustics, MRL have concluded that “taking into account the character of the noise from a synthetic pitch, we consider that it will be necessary to implement a scheme of noise mitigation measures in order to protect residential amenity for dwellings located at the end of Tillingham Avenue.” MRL Acoustic’s full report can be found here

The acoustic professionals have recommended that the south-western perimeter of the football pitch should have a solid acoustic screen of at least 2m in height and “constructed in the form of a solid earth bund or solid masonry” to help screen the voices of both players and spectators.

In a recently submitted revised planning application to Rother, the College has proposed installing a 2m high acoustic timber fence. Whether timber as opposed to masonry will satisfy the planners is anyone’s guess but one thing has become clear – the school has failed to communicate its plans to its neighbours at every step of this process. 

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .


  1. One has too smile at all the objections by people living in love lane, and tillingham Avenue, the current college,formerly the old grammar school, has been there longer than any of the houses in love lane, its beggars belief that people buy a house opposite a school, and complain about the noise and light pollution, and I say good luck in your planning applications to the college, who are trying at last to raise the standards of a school that has been dysfunctional for so long in the past.

  2. It beggars belief that anyone could post a comment that is so astonishingly and unjustly hostile to the residents of Love Lane and Tillingham Avenue, whose objections are completely valid and justified with regard to Rye College’s latest planning application. There is a world of difference between what has previously existed on the school site and what is now proposed. There is a famous statement in the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” that “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” I ask Mr Tolhurst to be fair-minded enough to consider things from the point of view of the residents, all of whom bought or began to rent their houses before these massive changes were proposed. On the previous school site there was neither light pollution nor noise, except for the sounds of children playing during school breaks (or burglar alarms occasionally ringing for long periods in the middle of the night). What is now proposed by the school will give it all the appearance of a high security prison. Let Mr Tolhurst smile at that. The high metal fencing has already been put in place. All it needs to complete that impression is eight lighting columns 6 metres high spreading light pollution all around. This will do nothing for the image of the school or its standards. And the increase in noise which would result from the proposed multi-use games area has the potential to be at times intolerable. Government planning regulations give firm guidelines on light and noise pollution because of the potentially harmful effects of both on quality of life. Particularly relevant in this case are the statements that “Artificial light is not always necessary” and “has the potential to become what is termed ‘light pollution’ or ‘obtrusive light.” On noise, “Local planning authorities’ plan-making and decision taking should take account of the acoustic environment and in doing so consider whether or not a significant adverse effect is occurring or likely to occur”. The current proposals would without doubt have a significant adverse effect in both respects, and Rother planners have a statutory duty to ensure that these clearly adverse effects are prevented or at least stringently minimised. .

  3. In response to Elaine Luke’s comment quoting from “To Kill a Mockingbird”, it would be interesting to hear the school’s point of view. Clearly they feel that this planning application, which is proving to be somewhat contentious, would be of benefit to the school community in some way. Anyone at Rye College willing to comment?

  4. Agreed. I thought the Rye Neighbourhood plan would protect the playing field as a green space? (although it was so complicated to understand I may be wrong). One wonders why all this is needed. First the footpath was closed. Now they have put up ugly high metal fencing and next they want lighting columns.

  5. Well said John Tolhurst.
    What is more important.?
    The revival of an obviously failing school,mercifully rescued by a fine Trust,OR the pacification of people living in overpriced houses.?
    Would you buy a house in close proximity to a school,pub,hotel etc.?
    ‘Caveat Emptor’.’Location Location etc’
    As for the ‘moaners and groaners’,bureaucrats,self-esteemists–you have done a pretty good job in ruining a very fine town over the 70+ years that I have known it.Poor schools,worst supermarket(with a monopoly),voted in UK.,and a High Str.full of candles(shops).,and no banks.

    • I fail to see how any of the perceived problems above can be blamed on the residents of the town, whatever their background or politics. In particular, banks close because they are more concerned about their shareholders than the communities they are supposed to serve, conveniently forgetting that, not so long ago, they were baled out by these communities ie the taxpayers.

    • There is clearly a difficult issue here that deserves to be debated sensibly and without resorting to childish comments about the value of the properties on Love Lane. Contrary to what is often quoted, the “we were here first” argument does not always apply and I don’t feel that the school’s perceived requirements should inevitably prevail in all circumstances. I know nothing of the background to the erection of lighting columns, but they do sound terribly intrusive and light pollution is a serious matter.

      For their part, I hope the residents do bear in mind that an educational establishment has been on this site for a very long time, certainly longer than they have, and they should have thought about the likelihood of further development, when they acquired their properties. I don’t know what stage has been reached in carrying out the work, but there does seem to be a need for a calm review of the plans and mediation between the parties.

  6. I always have to stifle a smile when I see all the teachers’ cars jam packed across the former tennis courts.
    Has teachers’ car parking now taken total precedence over students’ sports facilities?

  7. It is difficult to comment sensibly on such a divisive issue which, at its heart in these comments, has turned into a ya! boo! slanging match against people who happen to be living in the same ‘Education Quarter’ as the various schools. Firstly it is untrue to take the view ‘the school was here first, so hard luck’; eight of the houses date from the 1890s, so preceded the school.
    Secondly there is a hint that this wonderful Academy Trust is so much better than its predecessors. Changes in the way schools are run, pushed to extremes of autocratic control by current legislation, mean that millions of pounds can be directed at Government favoured Trusts, whereas the previous Trust and before that, the School Governing body, were starved of cash.
    This Trust, with no democratic oversight, is obsessed with ‘security and safe-guarding’ and is turning the school site into a copy of an industrial or military style complex. One wonders how many educational needs, such as books, computers or teaching support, could be bought with this profligate spending on fences, gates and security.
    In passing, erecting a fence across the Love Lane turning circle, presumably without Planning Permission, could impede access and turning of emergency vehicles attending, say, a fire at the Primary School. What price security?
    To turn to the proposal, I suggest the tennis court (what a joke) site is totally unsuitable as a secure overlit car park. One clue is the names of the adjoining roads, The Grove and Love Lane, which still retain the atmosphere of a verdant residential area.

  8. Maybe the trick was missed back in the 60’s, the New Road site might have been a better choice for development, acres of open ground still unused after all this time.

  9. Way this is going the school will resemble the ADX in Colorado (El Chapo,s new home) before long.
    A bit of lateral thinking here. Perhaps the trust could make room for the villain and make a few quid into the bargain. All income is good income when you are skint.

  10. Anybody with kids in the school don’t really care about look of school, schools are about education why not put the money towards better education instead of making the school look better than it is.!!!!!!!!!


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