Rother’s plans to introduce a new tax on new homes has been agreed by Rye’s planning committee, though, it says, it wants more information on the details – including the level of charges and how much of this money would actually come back to Rye.
Local resident Chris Coverdale told the committee that the tax – designed to raise an average of £18,000 from each new home – would hit the elderly and disabled in particular, and would be funding High Speed trains that won’t even stop at Rye (see ‘Rother plans will cost Rye its station’ in Opinions).
But the committee accepted the recommendations of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group (NPSG) to agree Rother’s proposals, subject to more detail. The new tax – the Community Infrastructure Levy – will be paid by developers putting up new homes. They, it is expected, will pass on the cost to buyers and push up house prices.
Rother’s consultation, which was published in August when the town council was on holiday, includes an Infrastructure Delivery Plan of about 50 pages covering everything needed by a growing population from road and rail links to hospitals and schools.
Charges for the new tax will vary across Rother and the committee agreed that Rye should be split into two areas because Tilling Green is an area of multiple deprivation.
Coverdale told the councillors that their decision could be “as bad as the one made in 1974” when Rye’s assets were transferred to Rother. Anthony Kimber, vice-chair of the NPSG, said that while Rother’s plans made little reference to neighbourhood planning, a Neighbourhood Plan would mean that Rye got more of the new levy.
Coverdale said the committee was making a lot of assumptions and Cllr Heidi Foster said “lots of this is very vague”. Kimber agreed that “we need a lot more clarification”. Coverdale added : “We handed over all the power in 74 without getting firm assurances” and Kimber agreed that Rye needed cast iron assurances.
The committee agreed to look in more detail at Rother’s delivery plan after Coverdale claimed that most of the new tax would go on a High Speed train service that would not even stop in the town.
Cllr Mike Eve said he was under the impression that High Speed rail would be centrally funded and Cllr Bernardine Fiddimore, the town’s mayor, said MP Amber Rudd had assured her that it was “the intention that HS1 would stop at Rye”.
When a National Rail representative spoke to the Marshlink Action Group about plans for High Speed rail he said there would need to be a new, larger passing point and either a third rail or overhead lines for electric power, but no reference was made to Rye station being closed or to the line being on a high level platform because of possible floods.