Regeneration on the way at Rye’s Winchelsea Road

Old pine shop, Winchelsea Road, Rye. 15/1/14
Old pine shop, Winchelsea Road, Rye. 15/1/14

AN eye-sore at the western entrance of Rye could be transformed into new businesses to help Rye’s local economy.

The former Grist Mill pine showroom, on Winchelsea Road, has stood empty and derelict for the past year.

Now plans have been submitted for a new development on the site which could include new shops, office space or a restaurant.

The application was discussed by Rye Town Council’s planning committee when it met on Monday evening.

It received a generally positive response, though concerns were expressed about the height of the proposed development.

Planning committee chairman Cllr Bernardine Fiddimore said: “I think it is a sensitive and well thought out plan. The area is in need of regeneration. The garage next door was hideous and the grist mill building not a lot better.”

Cllr John Breeds said: “At the moment it is a single storey building and always has been.

“I am worried about the height of the proposed building which may spoil an open vista.”

Rye Mayor Cllr Shaun Rogers said: “I have no problem with the application. We need more economic development and places to work in Rye.

“But there has never been a large building on that site in 100 years, it has always been small workshops and boat-yards.

“I do find the design boring. This is an opportunity to create a dynamic landmark building on the site.

Cllr Mike Eve said: “The developer has done a lot of work on this application that is for sure.

“It would be great if something happened along there. The Environment Agency are not looking as if they will so anything vert innovative along there and yet they own half the street.”

The committee approved the application subject to further discussions on the design.

The derelict nature of the area has been of concern to Rye residents for more than a year. It was one of the main concerns raised at the Rye Annual Town Meeting back in 2012.

The Rye Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group has met with St Leonards based applicant Jeremy Jones.

Colonel Anthony Kimber, from the steering group, said: “Decontamination of the adjacent former Total Garage site had been part completed to standards acceptable for commercial development.

“We have not yet developed a vision for the broad location, which could be supported by community evidence other than to say that there are numerous responses from many ongoing conversations suggesting it should be developed in a carefully planned way, which would enhance this important area of Rye.

“In particular, development should provide an appealing backdrop when viewed from the east side of the Strand.”