ROTHER Council has the power to end the long-running row that is preventing Rye from getting a new supermarket.
Among options on the table when Rother’s Cabinet meets next Monday (April 14) are compulsory purchase orders (CPO’s) for the Queen Adelaide pub and even the whole site itself.
These options include CPO and transfer the Tesco land to Sainsbury’s; a CPO and transfer of the Sainsbury’s land to Tesco or a CPO of all the land and disposal to a third party.
There are though potential risks involved and Rother has said it would need to explore the full legal and financial implications before going down the road of CPO’s.
The recommended course of action, described by Rother executive Anthony Leonard as ‘the simplest option’ is “for the Council and the MP to continue encouraging and pressuring the two companies to reach agreement. To help with this the Council could lobby central Government to intervene at the highest level.”
Mr Leonards concedes though, in a risk assessment, that: “The community of Rye are becoming disgruntled and some of the angst may be targeted at the local authority.
“Whilst Rother District Council has no say on how these supermarkets behave over land ownership issues it can sometimes reflect badly on the local planning authority as being seen as inertia and reputationally damaging.
Rother has powers to issue CPO’s under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 if it thinks the acquisition will ‘facilitate the carrying out of development, redevelopment or improvement on or in relation to land or which is required for a purpose which it is necessary to achieve in the interests of the proper planning of an area ‘.
The power can only be exercised for the promotion or improvement of the economic or social or environmental well-being of their area.
Many in Rye argue that a new supermarket is much needed. Rother’s own past survey suggested that trade is leaking out of Rye with the majority of residents travelling to Hastings or Tenterden for their main weekly shop.
Rye is still without a supermarket that opens on Sundays.
The delay is also holding up much needed improvements in Rye as conditions attached to both applications require the supermarket to provide or improve a footpath/cycle path link between the site and the Grove and pay a transport contribution for highway and improvements round Ferry Road and Station Approach.
This would include landscaping public art and works to improve pedestrian linkages to the town centre, including bus stops, carriageways, pavements and crossings.
At planning committee, members also requested the addition of a condition requiring improvements to the Network Rail level crossing which separates the site from the rest of Rye town.
Sainsburys first won the tender back in 2010.