Talks on future of supermarket site are ongoing

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Talks have been taking place between the Rye Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and Sainsburys over the future of the Lower School site.

This development in the long running saga follows the recent responses from Sainsbury’s and Tesco to letters from the Rye Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, in which they announced the abandonment of their supermarket proposals.

The companies were quick to indicate that their objectives for disposal will be commercial and focused on selling to either another retailer or a housing developer.

Colonel Anthony Kimber, vice chairman of the steering group, said: “Undeterred, the steering group has embarked on a series of meetings and discussions with interested parties, including the Rye Academy Trust, East Sussex County Council and Rother Council, to check the understanding of all the factors affecting the land and buildings in the broad location bounded by Grove Lane-Love Lane - the railway line - River Tillingham.

“As a result a marker has been placed with Sainsbury’s agents for possible consideration of other alternative future uses of the former Lower School site. These include the possibility for (as yet unspecified) educational and other purposes, such as MLAG’s proposal for additional car parking aligned with the Javelin fast train proposals.

“It is clear from numerous conversations around Rye that many consider that the disposal provides a golden opportunity to take stock of how the Rye community views this part of Rye and how it might be developed for the future.

“The work on the Neighbourhood Plan includes clarification of the future plans for the various levels of education from Early Years to post 16.

“ESCC advise that the long term forecast will be reflected in the ESCC educational plan for Rye, due to be issued this year. Some helpful interim data has been provided. However, after the Sainsbury’s decision, if the Lower School site is to play any part in Rye’s educational overall strategy, then now is the time for clarity of the vision for future education in Rye.

“At present there are more questions than answers, such as: To whom will Sainsbury’s sell their site? Can they be influenced and if so to what end?

“Sainsbury’s and Tesco considered that there was a market for a supermarket; can an alternative retailer be identified? If so then who and to where?

“If no alternative supermarket then what justification is there for another use?

“The Steering Group is tackling all these questions and more because ultimately the answers affect the Neighbourhood Plan’s provisional housing and commercial development plot.

“With disposal plans by Sainsbury’s already advanced, there is no time to waste. More meetings and contacts are planned. If you have views on any of this then the Rye Neighbourhood Planners will be delighted to hear from you.”

Email townhall@ryetowncouncil.gov.uk or via the contact page of the website:www.ryeneighbourhoodplan.org.uk.