Rye bid for better school facilities

Rye College ENGSUS00120130731094506
Rye College ENGSUS00120130731094506

Rye College is to make it’s case for a new building on the old Lower School site.

Rye Academy head Ann Cockerham says the current Rye College building has deteriorated so much that it is no longer financially viable to keep it running.

The College is asking Rye Town Council to support its bid to register the Lower School site as a ‘Community Asset’.

If this is approved it would prevent owners Sainsburys from selling the site for a six month period.

This will allow the Academy to make its case to the Department of Education for a grant for a new school building.

Ann Cockerham, in addressing Rye Town Council’s planning committee, said: “The current college building is costing a huge amount to maintain due to its age.

“It will cost £800,000 for heating renewal and there are problems with the sewage system.

“We had a grant for £250,00 last year for re-wiring and its cost £180,000 to replace windows.

“It costs a huge amount of money each year just to keep going. We are no longer viable.

“The land on which the current college stands could be used for housing development. There is a feeling that our land would be more valuable in terms of development than the Lower School site.

“It will take us some time to put our case to the Department of Education.”

Mrs Cockerham, who is Executive Principal of the Rye Academy Trust, says that a new school would have no impact on the public purse.

She added that the Studio School would stay in its current location.

Rye Mayor Bernardine Fiddimore said: “We should view this favourably. I think people in Rye would like to support this.”

Cllr Shaun Rogers said: “There are also a lot of people who would prefer a supermarket on that site but that is something beyond our control.”

For years the Lower School site has been the battleground for major supermarkets Tesco and Sainsburys who were vying to open a new store.

But in the autumn the deadlock was broken with both supermarket chains shelving their plans.

Ann Cockerham said: “ The Lower School site would enable us to build a school fit for purpose, giving Rye College students the facilities they deserve to support their learning.

The matter will be discussed by Rother District Council on March 6. The planning committee referred the issue to the next full council meeting at Rye on Monday February 9.