Rye bid for Camber Fields site

The large field to be sold - money for Bexhill's coffers?

At the eleventh hour a team of locals has put together a bid to secure the 71-acre Camber Fields site for community ownership. And the offer, which is to go through the Rye Fund, is for the full £70,000 despite concerns about part of  the site containing hazardous waste, including asbestos, in  what was the old town dump.

Speaking on behalf of the group of local Ryers who are concerned about the possible loss of this asset (which used to belong to Rye until it was given away to Rother for nothing in the early 1970s local government reorganisation), and who have in a matter of days raised the necessary funds, Mike Eve said “The Rye Fund expressed interest to Rother back in June last year that it was interested in acquiring this site to secure it for the local community,  and we were disappointed to hear nothing back until a couple of weeks ago when Rother suddenly announced it was to be sold off at auction in London on May 9!

Since then Rother has refused to withdraw the land from the auction, which has a guideline price of £70,000, despite requests by Rye Town Council to do so, in order that a local bid could be prepared to buy back land the town used to own!

Kenneth Bird, who is also part of the team who have organised the community bid added: “We are delighted that despite this refusal, and a busy Bank Holiday, we were able to make a written offer to Rother on Tuesday May 3 afternoon for the full guideline price and are now asking Rother to accept it and to withdraw the land from the auction next Monday.”

Since the auction cannot guarantee that the seller will get £70,000 for the land, the locals behind this exciting bid stress that they believe that as a public body, Rother should take the offer on the table rather than gamble with a public asset.

Despite concerns about the former town dump, erosion by the river,  and the Environment Agency still to confirm the reinforcing or building of new sea defences, Camber Fields has value for the local community in many ways. It holds a strategic position on the visual horizon from Rye, it is a popular walking and cycling area, it provides grazing for sheep and it is central to the Rye Fawkes celebrations since this is from where the firework display is launched.

“All in all we believe that this is part of Rye’s heritage and should not end up being sold to distant property speculators,” says Mike Eve. “I urge Ryers to contact Rother immediately in support of our community bid and to ask them to withdraw it from Monday’s auction. Since the officer in charge of the sale of this and other Rother assets at the auction is on leave, I suggest you make your feelings known to Malcolm Johnston who is the Director of Resources. His email is Malcolm.Johnston@rother.gov.uk “

Since the above was written, a reply has now been received from Rother:

“The forthcoming auction of this piece of land has generated a number of enquiries. In order that the Council is seen to be open and transparent it has been concluded that the auction of this lot will proceed.  The land comes with the benefit of a secure agricultural tenancy. We have however strongly encouraged the Rye Fund to submit their offer to the auction.”

Photo: Google


  1. During February last year the Environment Agency gave a presentation showing proposed flood protection schemes in this area. If my memory serves me correctly. One plan was to raise the bank or sheet pile on the East of the river between the Railway bridge and Monkbretton bridge. Then build a bund (I am sure the EA rep said the earth to build the bund would come by rail from the HS2 works) to the SSE from the bank just behind the pumping station (close by SE side of Monkbretton bridge) following a line approximately the track of the old Rye Camber tram stopping just short of the old RTC landfill (the western portion). The bund then turned toward the WNW and rejoined the old bank. The enclosed area about 40% of the fields (I,m guessing) would I understood it be returned to Salt Flats and allowed to flood.
    I wonder if this plan was to take shape then a purchaser playing the long game maybe entitled to shed loads of compo to reward them for loss of land.
    Just a thought.
    I have requested more info from the EA but so far no luck.

  2. Presumably any development on this land, or a change of use, will require the specific consent of Rye Town Council?

  3. The short answer to John Stedman’s query is “No” – Rye Town Council is ‘a statutory consultee’ on local planning matters, but the decisions are taken by Rother District Council, sometimes completely contrary to local views.

  4. So now it seems the plan as above will not be implemented. RDC knew after a meeting November last with the Environment Agency that the plan had been abandoned. Naturally RDC did not reveal this.
    As clear as river mud as usual.
    Wonder how clear they have been about the RTC land fill site??


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