Rock Channel plans revealed


There has been much speculation – including within these pages – about the nature of the Rock Channel redevelopment. For a while, after Bournes and the Auction Galleries had moved away, much of the site was virtually derelict. Then came the terrace of five large town houses overlooking the river and currently nearing completion.

But what would happen to the rest of the site? Would, as rumour suggested, the riverside path be closed, rows of high-priced houses and blocks of flats fill the area?

As it has turned out, the answer to all that was no. At an open day last Saturday, September 22, the developers, Martello Developments, revealed all. Yes, there are to be more houses, but only a few and set back from the river so that the current footpath will remain and an existing extension, taking a walk upriver towards Strand Quay, which has fallen into disuse is being restored.

The Studio and performance buildings

For the rest, a large open public space is being created in front of the existing warehouse buildings. These are being retained, but re-faced and internally refurbished to provide a series of artists studios and a rehearsal/performance hall. This is a facility which will contribute to enhancing the already-established reputation of Rye as a centre of creativity for all the arts.

We were also concerned about parking. The developers have solved this problem by simply not having any. There will, of course be access for residents and deliveries, but visitors to the studios and performance area will need to park elsewhere and the Gibbet Marsh car park, with its footpath through to Strand Quay is to be enhanced to help provide parking for events. There will, however, be a drop-off point close to the venue.

The River Cafe and riverside path

The intention, say the developers, “is to attract and sponsor world-class artists and performers, including drama groups, dance and ballet companies and more, to the centre, providing both jobs and opportunities for schools and outreach programmes.

“The proposals would create 12-25 full time jobs plus many indirect jobs, on a site which previously employed 4 persons.”

A planning application is to be submitted by the end of this year with, if approved, construction work taking 18 to 24 months.

Further information about Martello Developments and its work can be found on the company’s website.

Martello developments also owns two other important sites in the town. The first is the old Grist Mill and garage site in Winchelsea Road and we understand that plans for a combined commercial and residential development are currently being drawn up and which, if passed would result in the welcome removal of what is currently an eyesore. The second site is Willow Farm on the river bank opposite to Rock Channel. This has been left fallow for many years during which time a large amount of rubbish has accumulated. The immediate intention is to clear up the mess, but other than that, there are no plans for this area.

See also, Rye enters 21st century living.

Image Credits: Martello Developments .

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  1. Friends and I also attended the consultation on Saturday 22 September and were very much impressed with the plans for the new arts venue and for the entire development which includes new housing and a river front cafe. It is thoughtfully done with respect to the environment, public space, public access, architectural style and employment opportunities. This area of Rye has been poorly attended to for many years being basically a lorry park and disused industrial style buildings. The view from the citadel over the current site is a sad one and frankly an eyesore in such a beautiful and vibrant town. The developers have listened to residents and the current proposal deserves the Council’s support. I write not only as a Rye resident but as a professional involved in wellbeing research in public health; communities that create public space, as this one does with an outdoor amphitheater, river walk and publically accessible arts venue, enhance wellbeing and contribute to the public’s health. And as a disclaimer, I have no connection whatsoever to the developers.

  2. This is such an amazing project and will bring new life to the area.
    Rarely is something like this,done with such sensitivity to the local residents and overall look of the buildings.
    We love it and can’t wait to see it completed

  3. Yes, I do agree with Jonathan Tobin and Paul Camic. I think this scheme is exceptional and will provide much needed facilities and beautiful buildings.


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