‘CLASH OF THE TITANS’

RYE’S store war is back in the spotlight this week with the two national giants going head to head in their battle to open a supermarket on the same site.

Revised planning applications from both Sainsbury’s and Tesco were being considered by planners at Rother Council this week.

And it looks like the fight could intensify with planning officers recommending that both applications are approved.This will leave the two retailers to scrap it out between them while those desperately wanting a new supermarket are left in limbo.

Sainsbury’s bought the derelict former school site, off Ferry Road, from East Sussex County Council for £3.5million. But planning rules allowed Tesco to submit an application for the same site even though they do not own it.

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Tesco’s bargaining chip is the fact that they own the right to buy on the Queen Adelaide pub, which is seen as key to any access road that will be built for a new store.

Proposed designs from both Sainsbury’s and Tesco have come under fire locally with one design being likened to a public toilet block.

Rye Town Council is opposed to both applications on the grounds that the designs were not in keeping with the historic character of the town, and safety concerns over the entrance being too close to the busy rail crossing at Ferry Road.

But there is strong support for a new supermarket in Rye, which currently has no supermarket open on a Sunday.

Trade has been flooding out of the town as people drive to supermarkets at Tenterden or Hastings.

A Rother Council survey found that almost 80 percent of local people regularly leave the town for their big weekly shop.

Supporters of a new supermarket say it will create new jobs and stimulate healthy competition in the town.

But the fact that the two big retailers seem to have reached a stalemate could delay an new supermarket being built for a very long time.

Pam Beeching, from Tilling Green, said: “Rye badly needs a new supermarket, I don’t think people mind which one it is but we don’t want to wait.”

David Wall, of North Salts, said: “The town desperately needs a supermarket that is open on Sundays. Visitors to the town can’t believe it is closed.”

John Howlett, of Love Lane, said: “Rye may need a new supermarket but not at any cost. The design of the building and safety at the railway crossing is very important.”

A spokesman for Rye Conservation Society said, of the Tesco design: “It shows disregard for for its unique location within an historic town. The applicants have chosen a bland and formulaic approach typical of the majority of superstores throughout the country.”

Commenting on Sainsbury’s design he said: “It is too box-like and industrial in appearance.”

Both Tesco and Sainsbury’s have said they will actively promote smaller town centre shops within the store.

Both have said they will provide a footpath and cycle path link between the store and The Grove, as well as carrying out landscape improvement work in the area and paying for public art.

Planners at Rother were considering the applications yesterday and both were recommended for approval.

James Harrison, Tesco’s Development Executive, commented: “We continue to believe that our proposals for the Ferry Road site are the most appropriate for bringing a new supermarket to Rye and remain fully committed to working with the local community to deliver this ambition.”

Max Whitehand, Sainsbury’s Regional Development Executive, said: “Since purchasing the Lower School we have been working hard to evolve a planning application for a new store which makes a positive contribution to Rye and, importantly, is implemental. “The application follows the overwhelming support during our public consultation.”