Lower School site plans revealed

Public interest was high at the exhibition

A public exhibition of housing development plans for the Lower School site was held at the Tilling Green community centre on Wednesday, October 19.

Situated on Ferry Road behind the Queen Adelaide restaurant and internet cafe and backing on to Tillingham Avenue, the site is scheduled to comprise 77 new homes, with 48 houses and 29 apartments ranging from one to four bedrooms.  Built on a pattern of culs-de-sac off a central access road, the design includes a sequence of open spaces which lead through the scheme. Building heights across most of the site will be 3/3.5 storeys with lower dwellings nearer existing streets. On-site parking for 90 cars is included.

The London based developer, Plutus Estates, having bought the land, has already met with officers of Rother District Council and is now in the pre-planning application process of public consultation. Feedback was invited from the 100 or more residents who visited the exhibition, with the suggestion that “comments would be fed, where possible, into our proposals”. The planning application is expected to be submitted later in the year with a decision anticipated in early 2017.

Various residents’ comments were gleaned informally at the exhibition.  One local councillor said “it’s a beautiful site with easy access to the town, supermarket, school and rail and bus stations, but it does have problems with vehicle access and infrastructure generally”.  Another questioned the scheme’s viability in terms of flood risk, with the whole site relatively low-lying and residential accommodation apparently planned on the ground floor.

Questions asked by the developer were: 1). Do you support the principle of development on this vacant site? 2). Do you support our approach to the development of the site for new homes? and 3). Do you have any additional thoughts on the scheme? Comments are requested by November 4.

This is the chance for our readers to send in their opinions to Rye News. Rye Town councillors will be looking for guidance from you, or you can make your views known to Plutus Estates (Rye) Freepost ref. RTRB-LUUJ-AGBY, c/o PPS Group, Sky Light Tower, 50 Basinghall Street, London EC2 5DE or email PPS Group consultants: ellie.naismith@ppsgroup.co.uk. The developer does not have a website.

Photo: Kenneth Bird


  1. Visiting the exhibition last night on the planned development, of the old primary school site, I was surprised nothing mentioned about the flood risk, as the adjacent new primary school site was deemed one. I can also envisage huge problems accessing the new development, so close to the railway crossing, and opposite the fire station entrance, cars will have to be banned from parking on either side of the road,up to the docters surgery, to make sure vehicles do not get caught on the level crossing. The only positive to come out of this development,is this eyesore, thanks to East Sussex County Councils incompetence, will come to an end, after18 years of blight.I personally would have liked to see a new school built on it,as the chaos we are seeing in rope walk and love lane, trying to get to two schools, and a gym, must be a nightmare, for residents around there.East Sussex County Council still own the Freda Gardham site,and that would be ideal to build a new school,but sadly knowing the greedy council they will be looking for the big bucks,selling it on for housing,and what will we see, more houses for the weekenders, and buy to let brigade,nothing as usual in the price bracket, for people born and bred here.

  2. I was a pupil at Rye Primary School from 1958 until 1960 and so I have followed the sad history of this site with interest. The good news is that it looks as if it is finally going to be used and not lie waste. The sad news is that it would seem to be the end of any hope that a new school would be built on the site. I was a pupil at Rye Grammar School in the 1960s and have been shocked at the dilapidated state of the old building which is still in use. It desperately needs replacing. At one time I had understood that there was to be a plan to sell off the Grove Site for development and build on the old primary school site, but that would appear to be off the agenda. A pity. I hope that priority can be given to local people for any new properties that are built on the primary site, and that the housing, or at least some of it, is truly ‘affordable’. As J Tolhurst says, the properties should not be used for buy to let by outside speculators or used as week-end homes. Careful thought will also need to be given to access to the site.

  3. If the site backs onto Tillingham Avenue, surely the access should be onto this road rather than directly onto Ferry Road at what is, potentially, a traffic black-spot – just a thought!

  4. commuters have been pushing for extra parking for Rye station as this is especially difficult on Thursday.

    We have to be positive and hope there will be some improvement in rail infrastructure over next few years. We should be sure we have necessary infrastructure of car and cycle parking to be able to cope with this.

    We hope that some form of parking adjacent to rail track is made part of planning conditions and also access to rail platform and footpath on Ashford side.
    (Rye News NOTE:a number of spelling and grammatical changes have been made to this comment for clarification)

  5. ‘Lower School’ was publicly owned land until East Sussex County Council decided to use it as a cash cow – successfully for them, most unsuccessfully for the town. The site has resembled a bomb site for the last 20 (?) years, another of the monopoly tokens of barter-investment within the great capitalist game of fortune. What little notice ESCC did take of the wishes and needs of their constituents.

    The local secondary school does now need the site, should have the site, is supported by the whole town in their project of building a new school before the present structure finally gives up its very expensive ghost. But in the new Education Anarchy no one has local control over the school. It’s become an Academy – whatever that means, beyond being an opportunity for some other private company or quango to make some profit out of it. There is very little evidence of educational expertise among the trustees, or even business intelligence given that the Trust is at present in deficit. So little hope then of them raising money for the site or a new building.

    The present and proposed speculative housing scheme is for extreme high-density housing, which on the present plan lacks adequate parking and creates access problems at the level-crossing that is going to cause unending chaos without a proper traffic scheme (three-way traffic lights that also take into consideration the fire station opposite).
    No one in Rye has any faith in the East Sussex traffic authority, and it is unlikely that Rother District Council as the planning authority will take the initiative themselves to insist on ‘health & safety’.
    We have also long lost faith in our representatives – whether District or County Councillors. Perhaps this time they will make themselves heard and do the job that is expected of them.

  6. Rye News fails to mention that a team of Councillors and citizens are working to complete a Neighbourhood Plan. An advanced draft is on our website. The Plan identifies the Lower School Site for 4 development options: for education; for housing; for commercial; or other such as additional parking perhaps linked to the proposed fast rail improvement. Market forces will dictate which option is achieved. The Neighbourhood Planners are engaged with Plutus/Iceni and the Authorities about this proposed scheme. We have already made several comments including: housing density; flood and drainage risk and car parking.

    Engagement continues. Further information will appear on our website and Facebook page. Community comments will be welcome on either.


  7. Copy of e-mail sent to developers:

    Over-development – the number of dwellings proposed is far too high for the site

    Existing inadequate infrastructure – I would urge detailed consultations and physical surveys of existing drainage systems; access routes (vehicular and pedestrian, in the case of pedestrian did you know that Network Rail have mid term plans to do away with two foot crossings in the vicinity and build a footbridge I believe, it would be a good idea to consider the positioning of any such footbridge given the proposed new development; road condition (including foundation)

    Local services – do you and the Council consider that the local services available in the town can support the potential increase in resident numbers, it can barely do so at present with High Street banks closing, Post Office services being absorbed into poorly managed independent local businesses and the lack of affordable food retailers

    Public transport – as above, will local transport inadequacies be considered when looking at development size. We have a limited bus service supported by a thriving Taxi business sector which appears to do so well that many operators don’t need to provide a service in the late evenings !

    Overall I would support development on a slightly smaller scale and would suggest that some of the above pitfalls might be overcome by a diversion of some of the Developer’s profits into the community targeted at local improvements. I would also suggest that the developer might like to consider engaging with local stakeholders to see what benefits could be offered to the town as a community as a result of new development

  8. Plutus said:

    “We were very grateful to the 112 people who came to our exhibition of proposals at the Tilling Green Community Centre on the 19th October. We were really pleased to meet and hear from neighbours and community representatives whose comments we will now review before submitting our planning application.

    “We look forward to receiving further feedback in the coming weeks, and would encourage anyone with further questions to call the community line on 0800 019 2205.”


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