Rye loses its fight to save wildlife haven from being sold off

A BID by local people to prevent part of Rye’s greenbelt being sold off to private owners has failed.

The ribbon of trees between Rye Station and the Grove was put up for auction by the British Railways Board with a guide price of between £10,000 and £20,000.

A group of local people pledged substantial sums of money to bid for the land with the aim of saving the site for the town and enlisted the aid of MP Amber Rudd. But last week the land went for £42,000, which exceeded the local fighting fund.

Dominic Manning, who led the fight to save the land, said: “I spoke to the successful bidder, who has in mind to ‘partially develop’ the land. They were not local. There is currently no right of way to the site in Rye. Sainsbury’s were for a long time interested in acquiring the land themselves and were in discussion with BRB but recently pulled out. I personally think the site is undevelopable, but it’s a shame that the land has gone from public ownership to private ownership.”

Rye Town Council Clerk Richard Farhall said: “The Town Council is disappointed that the community bid for the surplus railway land was unsuccessful, however, it is heartening to know that there are those in the town who, like the Council, are passionate about protecting Rye’s green spaces.

“Had local people, the Town Council and Amber Rudd succeeded in persuading BRB to postpone the auction, or to negotiate a private community sale, it is likely that additional funding could have been sourced.

“To avoid a similar situation arising the Town Council has nominated the land for inclusion in Rother District Council’s Assets of Community Value Register. If successful, the current and future owners of the site will be required to delay any sale by 6 months to give the community an opportunity to raise sufficient funds to make an offer or bid.”