The future of Rye may be in jeopardy.
Is it not time to reconsider the once proposed bypass, first conceived of in the 1990s? I am soon to celebrate fifteen years of being a proud resident of this medieval citadel town. Although I do not hail from these streets of cobbles and buildings steeped in history with architecture dating back to Queen Elizabeth, I have the bug that is contagious amongst those who visited then decided to stay. I genuinely care about this jewel in the East Sussex countryside and want, like so many visitors and residents alike, for its future to be secured.
The ancient Cinque port town of Rye has an abundance of architectural styles and exemplifies building traditions that have changed with the passage of time. This includes medieval arches, our very own castle, and the almost hidden monastery (not to mention Mermaid Street), through to the ultra-modern industrial look of the town houses recently built in Rock Channel. Taken as a whole, there is no wonder why Rye has so many visitors seeking an interesting day out completed with a meal in one of the abundant pubs or restaurants.
This is the modern day traffic that fans of Rye accept as long as it is managed sympathetically. It could be argued that a park and ride scheme would be a useful development to enhance the visitor experience while reducing the impact on residents, perhaps a debate for future consideration. In the meantime, it is the traffic passing through as part of an onward trip that justifies immediate consideration and in particular
large haulage traffic.
Originally, a bypass was proposed in the 1990s to take indirect traffic away from both Rye and Winchelsea, it is difficult to locate specifics but a tunnel under the river Rother was included in the proposal. Even then, almost thirty years ago, it must have been considered that the amount of traffic passing through these ancient towns was unsustainable. The road network through and around Rye was conceived at time when horse drawn coaches were the norm.
Certainly, no consideration had been given to leviathan-like lorries and their ability to negotiate a medieval infrastructure.
Other lesser towns have risen to the challenge and succeeded in the delivery of a bypass, overcoming the many obstacles for the benefit and longevity of their towns. It is not the intention of this writer to propose possible solutions to the construction of a bypass or even give consideration to a possible location. The authorities are in the best position to do that. Undoubtedly, debate and discussion on the matter are now well overdue.
Image Credits: John Minter .