Comprehensive plans for Rye’s Rock Channel area, including an arts centre and riverside housing, received lukewarm support at the Rye Town Council meeting on Tuesday May 28.
A special meeting had been called to discuss the planning application and, after a lengthy debate, a motion to oppose the plan was defeated by only a couple of votes; and a motion to give limited support to the plan was then carried by only a couple of votes.
Councillors’ concerns focused on a number of issues including flood risk and the sewerage infrastructure, but in particular on the potential problems caused by traffic and parking.
Much emphasis had been placed in a PR offensive by the developers and architects on visitors to the arts centre using Gibbet Marsh car park.
This however is currently subject to flooding and had to be closed last Bonfire Night, and a planning application for a bridge over the River Tillingham linked to a footpath under the railway from Gibbet Marsh was recently withdrawn.
In the absence of parking controls, motorists tend to park wherever they can closest to their destination, and councillors were concerned about South Undercliff (the A259 and the main road through Rye) grinding to a halt when the arts centre staged events.
Concern was also expressed about the impact of the proposed centre on existing venues such as the Milligan Theatre in Love Lane and Rye Community Centre in Conduit Hill amongst others.
Frequent references were made at the council meeting to Rye’s Neighbourhood Plan and Policy H4 on pages 27-29 of the Final Version dated May 10, 2019.
The plan is up for approval in a referendum of Rye residents on Thursday, June 27.
The first houses built in this area (see top picture) have been priced at over a million pounds each, and the other riverside houses proposed are likely to be similarly priced.
Parking however remained the major concern of the councillors, and the road that runs through the site does serve a number of other homes and businesses. However the main concern was about South Undercliff “becoming impassable” and councillors clearly expected more work to be done by the developers on parking and traffic issues.
Indeed with the introduction of civil parking enforcement (CPE) in the near future, the developers need to be talking to the county, district and town councils as well as, possibly, the Highways Authority because of the “A” road.
Image Credits: John Minter.