Back in September last year, we wrote about an exhibition and public consultation on the development by Martello Developments of the old Bournes warehouse and the auction rooms at Rock Channel. The exhibition was held in an area that was planned to be converted into artists studios and a performance area and, by and large, the plans met with the approval of much of the public who attended.
Eight months have now passed, so Rye News visited the site to see how the initial phase of the development was progressing and to discuss future plans – particularly in relation to the performance centre.
It was immediately apparent that much change has taken place in that period. The first five waterfront homes have now been completed (and two sold), Refurbishment of the warehouse was proceeding at a pace, with plastering, painting, artists studios and associated facilities almost complete and a massive lighting truss being erected in what will be the main performance area.
The first event takes place over the coming Bank Holiday weekend with an exhibition of the Hastings Tapestry. Started in 1966 and produced by the Royal College of Needlework, the tapestry takes over from where the famous Bayeux Tapestry – recounting the events of 1066 – ends, and tells the story of Britain from then to the 1960s. More details of the exhibition were published in Rye News last week.
More events, including performances of dance and music, are planned and will be announced in due course.
This is all part of a complete regeneration of this area of Rock Channel and in addition to the current developments, a second phase of building is currently under consideration by Rother planners and will consist not only of residential but also a public, open park-like landscaped area leading down to the river. Some interim landscaping (described by the developers as ‘tidying up’) is already being undertaken
Martello are ambitious for the area – now to be known as Bridge Point, to be a major addition to the cultural scene in Rye with artists – both painters and performance – of international stature appearing there.
All this does, of course, need to be funded and the intention is that house sales over the completed development will fund the refurbishment, with income from leased properties providing the running costs (energy from renewables is also part of the plan).
On the housing side, one should not expect a development similar to others that have recently sprung up, or are planned, around the town. These will be luxury properties with price tags to match. Martello are unapologetic about this. They are building, they say, what is right for the area and what will produce the funding for both the performance centre and the public landscaped and riverside area, the latter, they believe being a considerable attraction for both local residents and visitors to the town.
But what about more affordable housing? There are two developments currently under consideration – at the top of Rye Hill and the old lower school site and the overall plan for future housing is laid out in the Neighbourhood Plan which comes up for approval by referendum shortly.
Any major change in a town such as Rye is bound to have both proponents and detractors and doubtless both will make their voices heard as time goes on. However, Rye needs its visitors and a new major venue such as this, attracting top artists might well prove a serious additional draw.
Image Credits: John Minter.