Facts behind the Lion Street site

FE Centre
FE Centre

PLANS to build a 120 seat cinema at Rye’s Lion Street are being opposed by a heritage group.

The Victorian Society is upset that the plans include demolishing a block of the Grade II listed library complex at Lion Street.

The plans will “spoil Rye for all time” says James Hughes, Conservation Adviser for the Society.

He said: “‘This is an attractive and historic group of buildings,’ adds James. ‘The proposed demolition is not just about the loss of one building - it’s about the whole character of the area.

“Not only is this in a conservation area but it is right in the middle of town.

“The buildings are essential to Rye’s unique appeal as an historic town. This act of destruction will spoil it for all time.”

Fletcher Theatre Group’s creative director Hugh Kermode said: “In order to create a 120 seat cinema there is a need to knock down a bit of the listed building.

“There is nothing hidden about this and we have been completely up front.

“We are working closely with English Heritage and Rother District Council’s planning department and any work done will have to meet their criteria.”

One of the Fletcher Group’s stated aims when it joined forces with St Mary’s Church to buy the site from the Hastings College , was to preserve it for the town.

Mr Kermode said: “The battle was always over the Victorian art block which the college wanted to demolish.”

The buildings were originally a Victorian Board School, built in 1874 on land donated for the purpose.

The Fletcher Group’s official plans for the site are due to be submitted in the next two weeks and will then be available for full public consultation says Mr Kermode.

The Fletcher Group has an agreement with the successful Kino Digital cinema at Hawkhurst to run and manage the new 120 seat cinema complex they hope to open.