New Grapevine plan attracts opposition


A new expansion plan by Rye’s Grapevine jazz bar has sparked opposition, only five months after its controversial bid to install outdoor seating on Conduit Hill was rejected by Rother District Council.

Key elements of the proposal involve using a rear courtyard behind 7 High Street (Customs House) as external seating for the bar’s customers and to create a new commercial kitchen with fume extraction and ducting. The kitchen and a storeroom would be converted from a current lower ground floor residential flat.

However, in a comment to RDC, the senior Environmental Health officer said the failure of the planning application to state the hours that customers would be sitting in the courtyard created “the potential for such use to cause noise disturbance to neighbouring premises, particularly during the evening” and this meant he “could not recommend approval based on the detail currently available”.

The bar won conditional approval to extend its opening time to 1am in late 2016.

Local residential and business neighbours have also lodged strong objections with RDC’s planning division, claiming that the new proposal will generate more noise, greater disturbance from the bar’s customers and produce unwanted kitchen odours, noise and vibration in a residential area.

One resident asserted there are already four restaurants in this part of the High Street and she claimed none of them have “proper flues at roof level”. In a comment to RDC, the nearby Marco’s Restaurant referred to “ongoing smoke and odour nuisance” from a separate restaurant, about which it had complained in late 2022.

Marco’s claimed the new [Grapevine] implementation of a kitchen and extraction system would increase the amount of nuisance which means Marco’s would be unable to use its windows for natural ventilation. The commenter also criticised the “industrial appearance” of the proposed fume extraction ducting.

Rye Conservation Society has also opposed the project on noise and disruption grounds, and the change of use to a commercial kitchen. It said the courtyard “seems an inappropriate area for outdoor seating”.

Another neighbour questioned whether the Grapevine’s current drink and music licence would extend to the external courtyard, which he asserted was intended for “quiet enjoyment”.

Number 7 High Street is Grade II Listed and sits inside Rye Conservation Area. Amid recent controversy over the brickwork colour of the George Hotel, some residents are now openly asking why the Los Gringos ‘Tex-Mex’ restaurant in the High Street was allowed to paint its facade an unapproved yellow ochre inside the conservation area.

Ultimately, the planning disputes at this end of Rye’s High Street are being created by commercial interests clashing with residents and even other businesses — raising the question of residents’ rights to minimise noise, atmospheric pollution and disturbance. As high streets all over the UK adapt to changed circumstances, with more residential use occurring, such conflicts seem set to continue.

Image Credits: Edward Evans .

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  1. For some reason, probably strategic, two very similar planning applications were lodged for this proposal at the same time. Environmental Health has opposed one of them and may not have seen the other. I understand the idea is for the outside area (courtyard) to be closed at 10pm, but of course there is still likely to be noise and disturbance until this relatively late hour. No indication is given of the proposed opening hours of the courtyard area. It could be for most of the day. One would imagine that local residents living in the High Street should have some right to respite from noise after 5pm and at weekends, but of course the Grapevine is a live music jazz bar where music and drinking are the key selling points. The kitchen move and fume extraction is another issue but would appear to indicate more cooking operations at the jazz bar.

  2. Los Gringos is NOT Tex-Mex. Their Guacamole is, however, delicious.
    Shame the jazz bar can’t remain just that. It’s a fun place for sure.

  3. If Los Gringos is not Tex Mex, why does it have the words ‘Tex Mex kitchen’ plastered over its facade in three places? Just look at the photo. While they are removing the references to Tex Mex, perhaps they can return the brick facade to the original colour suitable for Rye Conservation Area. I don’t think the jazz bar is planning to change its music offering; it just wants more customer space and a more commercial kitchen. The problem is that these ambitions conflict with local residents’ rights to peace and quiet and (possibly) fume related regulations. Environmental Health will have an important part to play and its initial ruling doesn’t sound good for The Grapevine’s plans.

  4. This is a good letter and on the same line. What is happening to the property next door to Los Gringos that used to be the estate agents. Work is being carried out but there is no planning application and this is also part of the same listed building.


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