Last October we reported on a consultation meeting at the Tilling Green community centre with London-based developer, Plutus Estates, to build 77 new homes on the old Lower School site behind the Queen Adelaide pub in Ferry road.
After much discussion over flood risk, drainage and access, they have now submitted a more detailed plan for 72 units (including 29 flats) and 92 parking spaces. The Queen Adelaide, itself, and the adjacent row of houses would remain. This is very high density and the Rye Neighbourhood Plan (RNP) has recommended no more than 50 units for the site. Access would be from Ferry Road between the Queen Adelaide and the railway crossing.
According to the planning application no ‘affordable homes’ are currently scheduled to be part of the development.
The plans are due to be discussed at a special meeting of Rye Town Council at a date to be advised later this month (September) and are also due to go before the full planning committee at Rother District Council.
On the latest update from the RNP Steering Committee, there are several reservations raised, mainly resulting from the excess of dwellings over the recommended number of 50. These concern community support, such as medical services and education, doubts about foul water disposal in an area which already has known problems, adequate provision for parking and safe and suitable access on to Ferry Road and, of course, the lack of provision for an element (in theory, 30% or 21 units) of affordable housing, of which Rye is in need and which is a requirement for all developments in the Rother area of 10 dwellings or more. It also leaves open the question of the fate of the Queen Adelaide itself and the currently derelict cottages alongside (although Rye News understands that one of these has recently been sold).
In the 2014 Rother District Land Availability Assessment, Rye was required to add 402 homes to a total of over 6,000 new homes to be built in the Rother area as a whole by 2028. At that time some 200 homes were either being constructed or were committed. Since then more have been added to the list and in the July update to the RNP it was stated that only 120 homes were now needed to complete Rye’s commitment and of these 80% could be built at Valley Park, Freda Gardham, Rock Channel and Winchelsea Road. The Lower School site was not included (originally, this site had been intended for a supermarket). The mathematics, therefore suggest that either a total of 24 units only, need to be built on the Lower School site or, if 50 plus are built, then this will take pressure off the other sites.
However, in reality, as long as there is a piece of land available in or around the town, there will be pressure by either district or central government to build on it – a pressure that will increase with improved transport if or when HS1 finally comes to Rye.
Photo: Kenneth Bird