New housing on the horizon

Some of the potential housing sites in Rye's neighbourhood plan

At a recent meeting of Rye Town Council’s Planning & Townscape committee, councillors heard that Rother District Council (RDC) had identified eight plots in Rye earmarked for housing development.

In total, RDC is looking at 900 development sites across the district but has not released the locations of where the eight sites in Rye are.

The meeting heard that it was unclear if all eight mirror those previously identified in Rye’s Neighbourhood Plan. The planning meeting also discussed new government legislation that intends to “revolutionise” the planning system to get more homes built where they are most needed. The proposed new legislation is causing a stir in the home counties, and is given as one of the reasons why the Conservative party lost the recent Chesham and Amersham by-election, and could well force Rother to accept many more new homes.

A number of councillors raised their concerns about a plot of land at the top of Udimore Road as a site for future development. The plot is privately owned and, you may remember, was the site where BP had applied to build a petrol station but came up against fierce opposition because of its location close to the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and because it acts as a “gateway” to Rye.

Those councillors who spoke on the topic were unanimous in that this site needs to be protected and not built upon with Councillor Cheryl Creaser saying, “We will need to fight this tooth and nail.”

Watch this space.

Update: The original map used to illustrate this story was from an early draft of the neighbourhood plan, this has been replaced with the map from the final version:
DRAFT Version 5 – 20 April 2015 (

Image Credits: Rye Neighbourhood Plan .


  1. At this meeting the Town Clerk and I, as Neighbourhood Plan coordinator updated Council on a recent meeting with key Rother Planners primarily to discuss the lack of any affordable housing on the horizon. At the meeting we took the opportunity to review planning policy work at national (Planning for the Future) and local level (Revision of the Rother Local Plan). Work on the latter will run on to 2022 and involves initially a “call for sites” from developers , hence the 8 sites mentioned above. Each will be considered against planning policy including the Neighbourhood Plan.

    Against a backdrop of policy revision elsewhere, local interest remains to ensure that the Rye Neighbourhood Plan survives as the key policy document, as it enables the Rye Community to influence what goes where in the future. It should be noted that it provided the backbone of arguments against the BP station on a prominent hilltop site dominating the Town. Importantly the Plan as agreed at Referendum seeks to conserve the character of Rye .

    The lack of affordable or first homes remains an important issue for many and work oontinues to secure some within the scope of the Neighbourhood Plan.

  2. Surely it’s getting to a stage in Rye where affordable housing is the priority, the problem is who decides what is affordable?
    Your idea of affordable may be way above what many first time buyers in Rye think it is, the last thing we need is more £1m housing schemes which are all very nice but are obviously aimed at a higher earner than most locals.
    Valley park is a classic example, apart from the social housing how many were bought by locals? Any new developments will have a scattering of social housing but most will be higher priced private buys, buy to rent or second homes, the cost of renting puts them out of reach of most locals unless of course you call £1200 a month affordable.
    Just out of interest would you allow another development like Tilling Green to be built consisting entirely of social housing, I know it’s not viable but if it was and the land was available would you pass it.

  3. To me it seems blindingly obvious that the only solution to this country’s housing problem is to build hundreds of thousands of good quality new council houses and flats, where the rents were levied according to ability to pay. I believe that the cost of such a policy would be much less than the the current cost that homelessness and poverty cause the NHS, social services and the wider economy, as well as creating the kind of civilized caring society that I would prefer to live in. Another benefit would be that it would help to stop the ridiculous rises in house prices that causes people to regard their house as an investment rather than a home and so distorts our economy. And finally yes I would be happy to pay more taxes if they went into such a scheme that was truly contributing towards real levelling up.

  4. Of course affordable homes are needed! But – thinking selfishly and being very biased – I would hate to see site H7 Freda Gardham turned into a housing estate when it currently has the upgraded Rye Creative Centre located on it.

  5. I HONESTLY THINK THIS COUNCIL HAVE DOUBLE STANDARDS. How is that on the other side of the Valley, being the gateway to Rye a huge private nursing home was granted on a field of an ANOB.
    There is a huge difference between a petrol station and a few deluxe houses. If you are so concerned about the gateway to Rye, do something about buildings approaching the town near the railway crossing. It seems to me that this council pick and choose who, being developers, get approval on various projects happening in and around Rye.
    Quite frankly I don’t think any one would make a second glance at at some really lovely houses, blending into the entrance of Valley Park. If I remember rightly was not favoured in the beginning.
    This parcel of land is not going to be a housing estate. Very similar to deadman’s lane, a very inconvenient site into Rye. How did that happen.

    • Replying to MEF, the new nursing home you refer to and the whole medical centre is not in fact built in Rye but the village of Playden. Playden is also split into 2 parts being Playden parish council and the western side including the hospital, medical centre and nursing home in the parish of Rye Foreign.
      Rye town council has no say what can and can’t be built outside of our parish but our area does need more social care units or beds and this will help to provide this much needed service.

      As for the land in Udimore road, I see it as a perfect opportunity to start to address the shortage of affordable housing in Rye. Building low rise 2 bed open plan housing of around 10 units camouflaged into their surrounding hillside with grassed roofs similar to some built in Brighton .

      As for double standards it couldn’t be further from the truth. We have criteria and laws on planning and adhere to those with Rother district council the statuary body who support or refuse all planning applications. Rye TC do from time to time find themselves at odds with RDC over planning applications.

  6. With regard to John Phillip’s excellent comment: The problem would appear to be the awarding of contracts. Apparently we need to reinvent council housing. Can we build a vociferous and effective local group to ensure that this is achieved?

  7. As the developer of Valley Park, we estimate that approximately 63% of the private buyers came from within 25 miles of the area. Of the balance, 22% were ‘down-sizers’ from the greater area, mostly from around Tunbridge Wells/Bromley/Bexley and the rest came from further away. We built 165 homes, of which 54 (33%) were social houses (16 shared ownership and 38 social rent), whose occupants were on the Council Housing list, so all of these were from the RDC housing area. The social housing was integrated within the private units to be tenure blind.
    The lowest priced ‘private sale’ house was £175,000 for a 2 bedroom terraced unit (2010) and £150,000 for a two bedroom flat (2015). We sold 34 units on the “Help to Buy” scheme which required a 5% deposit.

    Higher priced houses are essential to keep a good social balance and mobility in the market. 1st time buyers need to be able to move up the property ladder (as they have families) and pass on their homes to new 1st time buyers. If supply, further up the ladder, is restricted, the supply of existing 1st time buyer properties also becomes restricted.
    There is VERY strong competition in the middle-market (£400k to £700k) from divorces and foreign investment (both of which have increased substantially in the last 3 years) as well as those who are content with their property and have little desire, or ability, to move.
    Because of this (high demand); where middle-market properties are restricted (such as in Rye) they increase in value, which becomes disproportionate to the lower market, creating a rift, and they become “£1m homes”, which makes them even less attainable.
    Rye needs more middle market houses than 1st time buyer and social properties, to provide this ‘next step’ and free-up existing 1st time buyer properties, as well as create a good social balance.

  8. It would be a significant loss to Rye if the recently renovated Creative Centre on New Road were to be demolished and turned into housing. To keep Rye a vibrant community there needs to be provision for arts and cultural activities to thrive. The Creative Centre provides studio and performance space to many area residents and it is the home to thé newly reorganised Rye Music School, which has a Newly launched programme for school aged children to learn and develop their musical abilities.

    I know affordable housing is needed but building more £400-900,000 homes is not really in the best interests of the town. The decision by RDC not to include affordable housing in the new development near the train station (H8)is an example of the hypocrisy that exists; with over 60 planned units why cannot 10-20% be social housing? Rye has limited infrastructure and there appears to be no acknowledgment that there is a limit to how much the town can be further developed. There is also nothing stopping these new homes becoming Air BnBs or second homes. How does that address the housing needs of Rye?

  9. I’m not sure hundreds of thousands of homes are needed at all – there are plenty of houses, but too many aren’t fully occupied. High quality accommodation for retired people is what’s needed – this would free up our existing stock of family homes. Second homes that remain empty most of the time should be highly taxed and discouraged. This would make a huge difference.

  10. A few years ago a local developer was interested in the land that surrounds the tilling green estate, up to the tillingham river, by developing this parcel of land, may not please people living on the perimeter of the estate, but would fit in snugly without being detrimental to the view from Rye hill,or Leasam, and with the talk of a new footbridge to the grove, surely the way forward with know expense to the Council with the developer footing the bill, and other sites in Rye which are being targeted, could be quashed.

  11. Area H4 as shown includes the South Undercliff allotments. We have previously been told categorically that the allotments would be excluded from the areas designated for potential housing. So why is the site still on the map?

  12. Kevin. Thank you for the map update. The Neighbourhood Planners fought hard for the categorisation of the two allotments ( Love Lane and Undercliff) to be “statutory” and therefore better protected as described in the Neighbourhood Plan.

    As for the land at the top of Udimore Road this is outside the development boundary and
    having been subject to a Planning Inspector review remains unallocated for the development in the plan.

    There is land in the plan which is allocated and should be a higher priority for development including for “affordable” or First Homes. For those who wish to discuss further this complex issue, the Rye Planning and Townscape meetings are open to the public. On each agenda the Neighbourhood Plan and related matters addressed.

    Anthony Kimber PhD

    Coordinator Rye Neighbourhood Plan


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