Questions over housing plan

Former Thomas Peacocke / Lower School site awaiting housing

Rother District Council’s (RDC) decision to approve the planning application for 63 dwellings on the former Thomas Peacock/Lower School site has led to local residents raising their concerns.

While RDC attached over 20 conditions on the approved application, the two areas of most local concern, namely the total lack of affordable housing and the loss of green space including, potentially, the home of rare turtle doves on the site, were absent from their final decision.

The granting of the outline planning permission is subject to the Council agreeing a final financial settlement in lieu of the developer providing affordable housing on the site. As part of the developer’s original application it had offered £77,948 as a contribution towards providing affordable housing off-site.

Other areas where the developer needs to provide further information includes how they will manage the allocation of parking on the site. The developer proposes to allocate 48 parking spaces to specific houses and a further 49 will be unallocated, to be used by residents and visitors alike. As part of their parking proposals, 22 charging points will be installed – which will be the first electric changing points in Rye.

While no mention was made of the rare and endangered turtle doves that are believed to be on the site, Rother has stipulated that the developers must submit detailed plans for how they are going to retain and strengthen the planting that abuts the railway line. This submission will need to include details of all the trees that will be retained on the site.

The Council have said that the developers will also need to resubmit their detailed landscaping proposals, which must include “the design, layout and appearance of structural and amenity green space, including verges; planting plans; schedules of plants, noting species, plant sizes and proposed numbers/densities where appropriate.”

This is the first major housing development in Rye approved by RDC since residents voted in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan. The development is subject to a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which in this case will be a payment of approximately £783,000 to RDC.

Under the Localism Act of 2011, Rye will be able to claim 25% of that CIL payment but what it will pay for has yet to be decided. The Neighbourhood Plan has quite a few projects classed as “community aspirations” including improvements to Station Approach; the Greenway link; Deadman’s Lane improvement works; and improvements to the walkway between Love Lane and the Cemetery.

If Rye’s CIL allocation is only in the region of £200,000 obviously not all these projects will get funded, and therefore two questions arise:

Who will choose what gets funding? And, more importantly, what happens to the remaining c.£600,000 in CIL payments that the developer will have paid to Rother?

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .


  1. Comments by Vice Chair Rye Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

    Following discussion of the many issues raised at the last Rye Town Planning meeting I undertook to secure further advice from Rother Planners on the decision about affordable housing. Drawing on that advice, I can add to the piece:

    “Rother planners and the Rother planning committee are disappointehd that the site (Lower School Site) could not support affordable housing, particularly in the light of the recently adopted Rye Neighbourhood Plan, however, under Rother Policy LHN2, where it can be demonstrated that provision would render otherwise suitable development unviable, the Council is required to ‘expect the proportion of affordable housing to be the most that does not undermine viability’.

    The developer submitted a viability appraisal and this has been assessed by the District Valuer Service (DVS) – property specialist advisors to the public sector within the Government’s Valuation Office Agency.

    The key issue is the existing land value. This is based on ‘Existing Use’ – not the price the applicant may have paid for the site. Because the existing use is as a developed site – a former school (formerly with planning permission for a supermarket) – then the land value is comparatively high – when compared to an agricultural use for instance (like the Valley Park site).

    Other costs – build costs, professional services fees, legal costs, developer’s profit etc are based on RICS norms and not, DVS advise, excessive or ‘beefed up’. The overall cost of the development is therefore high because of the land value.

    In terms of sales, these are based on similar recent new house sales – including Valley Park and Cinque Port Street and other smaller new build sites and the DVS advise that their assessment is reasonable.

    In short, this means that the site is only viable for 63 dwellings, with the surplus (after profit and all costs) calculated at £77,000 – hence the requirement for the developer to pay this as a financial contribution – as the most that it is considered that the development can afford.

    As the development was considered acceptable in all other respects by the Rother planning committee, it resolved to grant permission, subject to a legal agreement.

    It is worth noting that the CIL value for the site is approx. £783,000 compared with £548,100 if affordable was provided on site (affordable is exempt from CIL payments). Of the CIL receipt 25% will go to Rye TC and this can (if Rye wishes) be spent on affordable housing albeit not on this site”

    The process for handling CIL by Rye Town Council has yet to be finalised. Separately we are considering the many conditions applied to the approval of this proposal, covering tree protection, drainage, sewage, impacts on biodiversity of the site, parking and access including during the build phase. It is clear that there will be much to monitor to ensure compliance.

    I hope that this is helpful

    Anthony Kimber PhD

  2. I am not being cynical,but how can price’s be based on the valley park development at the present time, if the developers wish too, they can wait nearly 5 years before they lay a brick, before the time to start building runs out.And with demand for property outstripping supply in this town, prices as ridiculous as we have in recent developments in this town,the developer’s will be laughing straight to the bank, at the Councils expense.

  3. The calculation of affordability is a joke. Surely the value of the land and therefore the price that a developer will pay is based on the planning regime in place. Thus they would have built into their calculations that a percentage of affordable housing had to be provided and reflected in the offer price. If they can then get this waived based on a different valuation to the price paid they make much more profit. Once again we see a government policy that just makes the housing crisis worse.


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