Tilling Green ‘rethink needed’


East Sussex County Council has decided to dispose of the old school at Tilling Green to Amicus Horizon, who will build and own the new houses and a new 2 floor community centre. The Rye Partnership will run the centre’s activities and Amicus Horizon and their partner the Rye Partnership have made a public presentation of their proposed housing and community centre’s design.

Amicus Horizon has stated that their aim was to build a total of 30 dwellings, which they propose to sell six houses outright, to sell 12 houses on a 50/50 shared ownership basis and to retain 12 dwellings (3 storey block of flats) for rent. Therefore their proposal must be assumed to be financially viable. The design of the community centre was also presented. This is much smaller building (including external terraced area) at 528 sq m than the existing centre at 762 sq m.

The option 4B two storey community centre plan shows the upper floor contains offices, a meeting room and common room and I understand these upper floors will be used solely  by Rye Partnership to run the centre’s activities etc. The ground floor rentable areas are the hall, kitchen and computer room.

The outcome of the option 4B plan is that only the activity hall, the computer room and the kitchen can be offered for hourly hire. Since the income to run the community centre is derived from hiring out space, such a small hireable space will not generate a sufficient income to cover running costs – unless Rye Partnership pays a considerable sum to hire the upper floor office space from Amicus Horizon who will own the building. The centre has six allotted parking bays only.

In my considered opinion the site can be better used. This is based on working with developers and architects most of my working life. Therefore I feel that pressure must be brought onto the developers to review their  housing and community centre design.

This is to ensure that the design of the new community centre is well researched and fit for purpose (A good example of a single story community centre design can be found at St Mary’s Bay) so that Rye has a new community centre that is a credit to the town.

To add weight to my statement I enclose drawings for discussion, which shows a 30 dwelling plan and a purpose built 603 sq metre low profile single story community centre design; that has its own car park for around 25 cars.

Having made enquiries I firmly believe that the ‘New Community Centre’ would attract a considerable amount of ‘Lottery’ funding. This is because it holds the freehold. Like all community centres it will need to generate an income that covers its costs through renting out its available space on an hourly or per day or per week, etc., basis. Therefore the building will need to have sufficient rentable available space in addition to the centre’s management offices to be viable.

The concept behind these drawings is to provoke discussion that will generate a design of building that is a credit to the town of Rye, because this is an opportunity unlikely to ever happen again.

I am a resident of the Tilling Green Estate, and I use and hire the centre therefore my interest is this – to obtain the best community centre possible for the local residents and wider community. Note: The  Council has a responsibility to get the best solution for this site.

Rye will probably only get one chance to have a purpose built community centre, and this is it! So let’s join together and have a New Community Centre that is well researched and fit for use for years to come by the community. Now is the chance to have your say, once built it is too late!

I originally trained for five years as a mechanical handling design engineer and trained for a further three years as a model maker. This training allowed me to work in the petrol chemistry industry, producing piping models. Because I could think in 3D, this led to working with architects or developers planning models at the design stage. In the latter years of my working life I lectured on engineering, model making and photography at various universities and colleges. At 72 years old I retired, and over two years ago moved to Rye.

It is this professional experience that has allowed me to interpret the drawings presented by Amicus Horizon and Rye Partnership, and therefore visualise the outcome of their proposal.

So that I could make constructive criticism; I visited other community centres,  researched their design, their off-road parking facilities and used Google Maps to measure their size. I also explored the design possibilities of the Tilling Green site by producing a number of drawings.

I have spoken to people to find out what they wanted, and attended functions held at other village halls. Finally, I compared this with my use of the existing centre – I am a member of the Tilling Green Residents’ Association and as its photographer I attend the numerous functions held at the centre to document the events. I run the Camera 1066 Club based at the centre. It is with this background I produced my concept drawings, showing a centre that has lots of hireable space, from which it can earn an income.

My concept building is designed with a low profile and is set back from the road so that it blends into the landscape. This is totally different from the developers’ community centre proposal; which showed a building of two storeys high sited adjacent to the road, with an entrance around the back and with very limited off road parking.

Unfortunately, due to copyright, I cannot supply a copy of the developers proposed drawings for comparison. The drawing is titled: Tilling Green Community Centre Sketch Plans Option 4B and shows the proposed centre. I do not have the overall site plans drawing reference number. These drawings  might be available on the web.

Hopefully by getting people to add a contribution to the centre’s design, the outcome will be a well thought out and functional building that meets the community’s needs.




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