Rye is a small historic town at the eastern end of Sussex. It is situated at the confluence of the Rivers Rother, Brede and Tillingham and now lies some 2 miles from the mouth of the River Rother. The population of Rye Town has remained little changed over the past sixty years at some 4,500, but with the contiguous parts of Rye Foreign and Playden, its population rises to over 5,000. Rye Harbour has a further 500 permanent residents.


The historic core of the town is defined by cliffs and remnants of the town wall. This area is generally known as the Citadel. It possesses a distinctive outline and is a focal point for many miles around, particularly from Romney Marsh, Rye Harbour and Winchesea. In medieval times on the highest tides Rye became as island. In spite of the recession of the sea, it still presents the appearance of an island rising in places on cliffs above the low-lying country. From some view points, this characteristic is modified to the appearance of a peninsular where it looks as though it projects from a ‘mainland’ on its northern side. In 1971, the historic core of Rye was designated a Conservation Area. Separate consideration is being given to extend it to the west and north.


For its size, Rye is well provided with a wide range of shops, services and community facilities boosted by high numbers of visitors. It functions as a service centre for surrounding villages, probably serving a population of some 12,500. 


There is not only a significant amount of employment in Rye itself, but also at Harbour Road between Rye and Rye Harbour. Camber, some 3 miles distant and with some 12,000 tourist bedspaces, provides much seasonal employment.


Rye sits astride the route of the A259 south coast trunk road. The road is of poor standard, both to the east and west, and there seems little prospect of significant improvements in the foreseeable future. It also lies on the Hastings – Ashford railway, which gives a poor service in terms of both convenience and comfort. Journeys to London require a change of train at either Ashford or Hastings. However, notwithstanding that the South Coast Multi-Modal Study (2002) recommended the double tracking of the railway between Ashford and Hastings to permit a new half hourly express service between Ashford and Hastings, the Strategic Rail Authority has stated that neither electrification nor dualling of the track are likely to happen in the short or medium term. There is only a prospect of improved comfort, with the introduction of new diesel trains by the end of 2004.


The Harbour of Rye and flood defence

The Harbour of Rye comprises all the tidal channels seaward of the tidal sluices on the River and its tributaries, the Brede and Tillingham. It is managed by the Environment Agency. Navigation is restricted to high water periods. There are two private cargo handling facilities: one at Rye Wharf, Rye Harbour Village handles mainly roadstone, aggregates and timber, the other, situated further upstream, off Harbour Road handled aggregates. It is currently not in use.


The main fishing fleet is moored at Fishmarket, adjacent to Town Salts, Rye, with further fishing boats moored at Admiralty Jetty on the east bank of the River Rother opposite Rye Harbour Village. Yachts are mainly moored between Rock Channel and Strand Quay, where visiting yachts (under 50 feet) are accommodated. Fishmarket is the subject of a current improvement scheme. Slips are available at Rye Harbour, Rock Channel and Strand Quay.


The Harbour has important flood defence functions by providing outlet tidal channels for the low lying land of the marshes and for the Rivers Rother, Brede and Tillingham. The Harbour also contains a large number of flood defence assets whose purpose is to prevent tidal inundation. The western tidal walls, which defend 90% of the built up part of Rye, are the subject of an improvement scheme, due for completion in 2008. It is designed to give protection up to the one in two hundred year extreme event.


Rye Harbour Village

Rye Harbour village is located on the southern bank of the river Rother about 1 mile upstream from the river mouth. Rye lies upstream some 2.5 miles to the north-west. 


There are two public houses, a general store, a repair garage and a church, but no post office or primary school. The reopening of the Post Office is currently being investigated. A half hourly bus service operates to Rye, except on Sundays. There are moorings and other boating facilities, including a public slip and an RNLI Inshore lifeboat. Access is a problem insofar as Harbour Road has an inadequate junction with the A259 at Rye and there is no footway/cycleway alongside Harbour Road.

POLICY RY1 View Map of this site ?

Proposals for development and change in Rye should be compatible with and, wherever practicable, contribute positively to the following objectives:-

  1. to maintain the small market town residential and employment functions together with its character;
  2. to protect the unique historic Citadel and its landscape setting, particularly the levels surrounding the Citadel;
  3. to maintain and enhance navigation on the River Rother and the viability of the Port of Rye as a harbour;
  4. to enhance the commercial and tourism attractiveness of the Citadel and the wider area as far as is compatible with preserving their character and environment;
  5. to promote economic regeneration, including further job opportunities at the Harbour Road employment area;
  6. to maintain a strategic gap between Rock Channel and the industrial development at Harbour Road.

POLICY RY2 View Map of this site ?

Proposals for, development and change in Rye Harbour should maintain and enhance its character and amenities as a residential village, boating centre and tourist attraction, with particular emphasis on achieving accessibility and environmental enhancements.


The location of development should respect the close relationship to landform and landscape setting. Much of the land that surrounds Rye is within a flood risk area and also, if developed, would severely detract from the setting of Rye. These factors constrain further growth and any extension of the ribbon development and other development on the levels needs to be resisted. The capacity of the town to take significant additional traffic is also limited in environmental as well as physical terms.


The national and international ecological importance of land surrounding Rye and Rye Harbour, in particular for wetland habitats, is recognised through a range of specific nature conservation designations.


Having regard to the planning objectives and development constraints, it is concluded that, notwithstanding the relatively good services and facilities, the future growth of Rye should remain fairly modest.


It is especially important to make best use of existing urban land in order to minimise outward encroachment either on to the levels or into the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and to protect the setting of the Citadel.


The opportunity exists for residential redevelopment at the site of the former Thomas Peacocke Lower School off Ferry Road. This proposal is particularly significant as, with adjacent land in the railway corridor, it opens up the potential for a second access to the Community College, giving some relief to Town Centre roads and encouraging non-car travel. An allocation is put forward below.


An area east of South Undercliff, including Slades Meadow and South Undercliff allotments also has potential for intensification and redevelopment. Proposals for the redevelopment and renewal of this area, are also put forward below.


If there is a need to consider development beyond the existing urban limits of the town, then land to the north of Udimore Road is found to be the most appropriate. It is neither the subject of landscape or nature conservation designations, nor for the greater part, at risk of flooding. Development is also regarded as practicable in other respects.


However, given the priority to reusing urban land and the policy objective of only relatively modest growth in Rye, then it is considered that any development here would only be warranted if identified and potential urban sites are not realised and housing supply is consequentially insufficient. Hence, an allocation is put forward below, but development is also the subject of a phasing restriction at Policy DS6 in Section 4.


Land adjacent to Rock Channel

This land affords the opportunity for development to contribute to the revitalisation of the town by making effective use of its proximity to the town centre and waterside position, rationalising conflicting land uses and general upgrading of the area. At the same time, it is highly sensitive to change. It forms a key part of the historic setting of the Citadel and is prominent in views to and from the south-east of Rye.


It is concluded that the present mix of land uses is inappropriate in such a significant location, while a higher density of development is also achievable which should help regenerate the town as well as lead to environmental improvements. Such improvements should take advantage of the waterside.


A comprehensive approach to development in this area is required in order to ensure the most effective and efficient use of land and that individual elements contribute to a holistic vision, which also looks to strengthen links with adjacent areas, notably the town centre. The area is allocated for housing, open space, appropriate commercial uses and offices, falling within the A2 and B1 use classes, which should be at a scale appropriate to this mixed-use site close to the town centre. At this stage, it is recognised that a range of further economic, social and environmental appraisals are necessary in order to test and refine these proposals. A ‘development brief’ is proposed as the most appropriate means of progressing this.


Provision for affordable housing shall be integral to all residential developments to comprise 40% of the total number of dwellings, presently estimated to be 55.

POLICY RY3 View Map of this site ?

Land between South Undercliff and Rock Channel Rye as defined on the Proposals Map, is allocated for housing, open space and appropriate commercial uses. Detailed proposals will beformulated through a comprehensive Development Brief. This should provide for:

  1. selective redevelopment that makes efficient and effective use of the land;
  2. high density housing, including 40% affordable housing;
  3. commercial uses that complement the town’s tourism and marine functions together with suitable office uses;
  4. a riverside walk capable of linking to Strand Quay and the Fishmarket site;
  5. a suitable alternative site for the allotments in the event of their relocation;
  6. improved access and parking arrangements, as well as pedestrian links to the town centre;
  7. the timing of development related to the completion of planned flood protection works.

Development proposals in this area will only be permitted where they accord with the above principles, form part of comprehensive proposals for its redevelopment and renewal, and be subject to further assessment of their regeneration benefits, environmental and transport implications.


Former Thomas Peacocke Lower School and adjacent land

The site has been unused for several years and will be surplus to East Sussex County Council’s educational requirements if its preferred location for a replacement Primary School for Rye on an adjacent site is duly approved. However, if that is not secured, this site may still be considered for educational use and it would be prudent to provide for this possibility. It is situated within the flood risk area, but on completion of the Rye Tidal Walls and Embankments (Western Bank) scheme, the site can then be considered for development in accordance with Government guidance.


It is considered that the site is suitable for residential use and, being close to the town centre, is suited to higher density housing. Some 32 dwellings could be accommodated, 40% of which would be ‘affordable’ in accordance with Policy HG1.


The future of the adjacent railway corridor on the north side of the railway between Ferry Road and the Community College, Sports Centre and the swimming pool needs to be considered at the same time, as they are currently only accessed from the west via Rye town centre and Ferry Road level crossing. Although the character of the railway corridor ought to remain essentially ‘green’, it is proposed that a multi-use vehicular link to these community facilities from Ferry Road should be constructed. Such a link would reduce traffic along Station Approach, Cinque Ports Street andRope Walk, as well as avoiding the need to use two level crossings, and support the provision of high quality pedestrian and cycling facilities.


As regards access into this site, the best option, in terms of the Highway Authority’s requirements, is a signalised junction. The junction should incorporate phasing for the level crossing, access into the site, and the fire station. It had been envisaged that the Queen Adelaide Public House would need to be demolished to create a suitable access, but it is now considered that demolition may not be necessary.

POLICY RY4 View Map of this site ?

Subject to the site no longer being required for educational use, some 0.8 hectares of land on the site of the former Thomas Peacocke Lower School, Rye is allocated for housing development. Access shall be from Ferry Road and development should also provide for a new vehicular, cycle and pedestrian link to the Community College, Sports Centre and swimming pool. The site is suitable for at least 32 dwellings of which 40% are to be affordable. The development should involve the necessary junction improvements to provide access and developer contributions will be required for off-site works to create the above access link.


Land north of Udimore Road

This is the only ‘greenfield’ site in Rye that is not the subject of any nature conservation designations nor is it within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Only a small part close to the northern boundary is within the flood risk area and this part could be put to recreational use or kept as informal open space.


The site is not unduly visible in the landscape, but care should be taken to mask ridge lines on the higher ground by sufficient tree planting along the north western boundary. It is estimated that at least 114 houses would be provided, although the exact extent of development would be determined following a full landscape assessment. A policy requirement would be that 40% of the dwellings are affordable.


Access to the site would be from a point beyond the outermost property on the northwest side of Udimore Road, via a mini-roundabout. Not only would this provide safe turning facilities for vehicles wishing to access the site, but could also act as traffic a calming measure at the entrance to the town.


There is already a link for pedestrians to walk towards the station and town centre. Therefore, any developer would be expected to contribute to improving the existing pedestrian facilities into the town centre. This will include crossing facilities on pedestrian ‘desire lines’. Developer contributions will be also be required towards the proposed access from Ferry Road to the Thomas Peacocke Community College Sports Hall and swimming pool.


However, as discussed at paragraph 12.17 above, the release of this site is subject to Policy DS6 in Section 4.

POLICY RY5 View Map of this site ?

Some 3.8 hectares of land north of Udimore Road, Rye is allocated for housing development. Access would be from Udimore Road opposite Cadborough Farm. The site is suitable for a minimum of 114 dwellings to be developed at a density of at least 30 dwellings per hectare, of which 40% are to be affordable. Developer contributions will be required towards improving existing pedestrian facilities into the town centre, including crossing facilities on ‘pedestrian desire lines’. Developer contributions will also be required for the new vehicular access (mini-roundabout) to Udimore Road, as well as the proposed access from Ferry Road to the Thomas Peacocke Community College, Sports Hall and swimming pool.


Town Centre

The town centre is focussed on the historic Citadel, extending northward towards the railway station. In line with Policy EM13 in Section 9, the Council seeks to maintain and, where appropriate, strengthen the role of the town centre. Retail activity should be concentrated within the established main shopping area, which has been extended to include the market site and adjoining shopping developments.


In accordance with Policy SH2 of the Structure Plan and guidance in PPS6, the retail floor space needs of Rye are to be assessed, in conjunction with relevant stakeholders and the community. The assessment will take into account the forecast modest growth of the town; the need to counter the leakage of retail expenditure to other centres and the importance of Rye effectively fulfilling its strategically defined role as a residential, local shopping and employment centre and its functions as a key service and major tourist centre. Although no site-specific allocation for further floor space provision is made at this time, the assessment process will be subject to regular monitoring and review. Any proposal in the interim would be considered against the provisions of Policy EM13 and, if necessary, the sequential test in Policy EM14.

POLICY RY6 View Map of this site ?

The ‘main shopping area’ of Rye, as defined on the Proposals Map, will be the primary focus for retail development for the town. In the event of the assessment demonstrating a need for significant new convenience floor space growth, the potential to accommodate this will be examined, first of all within the main shopping area and will be fully assessed in accordance with the provisions of Policy EM13 and, secondly, against the sequential tests set out in Policy EM14.


Rye Harbour Road Employment Area

Rye Harbour Road contains a long-established concentration of industrial uses. While some uses still relate to its wharf-side and aggregates origins, the area now accommodates a broad range of businesses and provides the main industrial area serving the eastern part of the District. 


Several sites have remained unused for some time, although there has been a recent upsurge in interest, with new permissions being sought and granted on several sites. Vacant sites without planning permission at April 2003 are shown in Table 7 below.

Site Ref: Site Gross Area (ha) Estimated Net Floorspace* (m2)
Castle Water, Harbour Road
Rear of Long Product Site, Harbour Road
Spun Concrete, Harbour Road
Land east of Bourne’s, Harbour Road
TotalHarbour Road

* a 35% floorspace:site ratio is assumed for each site. 


These sites, together with those with unimplemented consents, represent a significant potential for further job creation. Proposals will, where appropriate, be subject to improvements to the Harbour Road/A259 junction and implementation of the Tidal Walls/Embankments flood alleviation scheme. Also, in view of past industrial activities in the area, the relevant Authorities will also need to be satisfied that proper regard is given to the implications for potential contamination.


Further development should also help facilitate improved accessibility to Rye for pedestrians and cyclists, which would also support the Rye Harbour village strategy, and may, depending on its nature, also need upgraded sewage treatment facilities.

POLICY RY7 View Map of this site ?

Within the Rye Harbour Road Policy Area, as defined on the Proposals Map, proposals for business development (Use Classes B1-B8) will be permitted where the following criteria are met:

  1. proposals which result in a significant increase in vehicle, especially HGV, movements will only be permitted when an improvement to the junction of Rye Harbour Road and the A259 has been secured and any consent tied to its construction;
  2. appropriate financial contributions are made to the provision of a footway and cycleway along Rye Harbour Road;
  3. it is demonstrated that proper account has been taken of any contamination by a competent person, including in its provisions for surface water drainage;
  4. there is no adverse impact on the adjacent sites of national and international nature conservation importance, as defined on the Proposals Map;
  5. development shall not commence until measures to alleviate the potential risk from flooding have been put in place.

Land Adjacent Stonework Cottages, Harbour Road, Rye Harbour

The site is situated on Harbour Road within the existing development boundary for Rye Harbour village and adjacent to existing residential development. It is currently in low-key employment use and some of the land is unused or used for the storage of old motor vehicles. It has a generally unkempt appearance. The existing employment use could be relocated within the Harbour Road employment area.


A residential redevelopment in this location is considered a more appropriate use within the village and could help improve the setting of the Old School House and the children’s recreation ground. The site has an area of 0.52 hectares and is considered suitable to accommodate at least 16 dwellings, 40% of which are to be affordable.


Although a ‘brownfield’ site, it is also subject to completion of the Rye Tidal Walls andEmbankments (western bank) (expected completion date 2007) to provide adequate protection to enable a residential redevelopment to be considered.

POLICY RY8 View Map of this site ?

Land adjacent to Stonework Cottages, Harbour Road, Rye Harbour is allocated for housing development. Access would be from Oyster Creek. The site has an area of 0.52 hectares and is considered suitable to accommodate at least 16 dwellings, 40% of which are to be affordable. Developer contributions will be required towards improvements of the Harbour Road/A259 junction and the provision of a footway/cycleway along Harbour Road.

Related Map Links

Some sections of this text contain a 'globe with link' icon. Clicking on this icon will take you to the map that is relevant to this text.

Sometimes, there is no spatial component or map feature that is specific to the text. In this case the link will take you to the overview map of the relevant map.

If there is a specific area relevant to the text it will be shown as a red highlighted overlay on the map at a suitable viewing scale.

« Back to contents page | Back to top