Fight is on to save Rye’s ‘green-belt’

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RYE is involved in a race against time to prevent a wildlife haven on its green-belt being sold off to developers.

The ribbon of trees and foliage between Rye Station and The Grove is due to be sold off at auction by the British Railways Board on February 14.

Local people say they are furious they were not consulted over the plans and are enlisting the aid of Rye MP Amber Rudd to get the auction delayed.

And people power may win the day with a group of locals pledging money to out-bid the developers and save the site for the town.

Dominic Manning, from Love Lane, who is leading the fight to save the land, said: “The land is up for auction with a guide price of between £10,000 - £20,000. There is interest locally to acquire it as a conservation area for the town.

“People have already said they are prepared to put in substantial five figure sums to buy this but the time-scale is very tight.

“We are disappointed it is going to auction without any consultation with the local community as is required by the 2011 Localisation Bill.

“The ideal thing would be to suspend the auction until a public consultation has taken place.

“Our primary concern at this stage is to prevent it from going to developer who may then fell the trees. We know of at least one commercial concern that intends to bid.”

He added: “I believe this land used to be railway workers’ allotments many decades ago, and now is predominantly covered in mature fruit trees, albeit now overgrown and unkempt.

“This site, along with others to the West has long been recognised as having an intrinsic value to the setting of Rye, as the trees frame the northern edge of the footland of Rye Citadel and have been described as a ‘green lung’ to Rye.

“Residents successfully persuaded the local authority to impose a blanket Tree Preservation Order on much of the site.”

Residents have won the backing of Rye Town Council, who on Monday voted to ask MP Amber Rudd to step in.

Rye Town Clerk Richard Farhall said: “I have emailed Amber Rudd asking if she can help get the auction postponed. I will also nominate the land to be included on Roher Council’s Assets of Community Value Register - and advise the auctioneer and seller’s agent that I have done so.”