Empty houses disgrace

Mr. Tolhurst’s letter (Observer 2/8/13) needs to be answered. I can’t speak for Cllr Glazier or for East Sussex County Council, which was responsible for selling the Lower School Site to Sainsbury PLC. The assumption was that Tesco would acquire the site and, in anticipation, bought up properties on Ferry Road to give access. This is the situation that has prevented Sainsbury’s development.

It is my opinion, and that of Rye Town Council, that the planning applications from both these companies should have been refused by Rother District Council, as the land was designated in the Local Plan for badly needed housing provision. Interestingly, as time has gone on, it could have been could have been used by Rye College (Academy) as its popularity increases and it expands.

I take exception to Mr. Tolhurst’s statement “The Fishmarket Road fiasco where councillors talked and talked for over a decade and did nothing about the derelict cottages”. Before making such libellous comments he could at least have ensured his statement was factual.

My file goes back to 2002 with copies correspondence and all the Land Registry documentation. Although people are aware of the dereliction, they are not aware of the efforts made to improve the street scene, and provide much needed smaller accommodation. The properties were condemned and vacated over a period of time following a substantial cliff collapse. The site should have been secured by March 2002 as a result of a Notice served under Section 79(1).

A number of Enforcement Notices have been issued to improve the appearance of the site over time. Ownership changed over the years, and during that time a number of Planning Applications were submitted. In each case a significant Condition was imposed that any redevelopment would include the stabilisation of the cliff using a method acceptable to Rother District Council. Such a financial input was a constraint, and this was an on-going problem until now. This short précis is only part of the site’s history, the rest I would happily share with Mr. Tolehurt should he so wish and then he will be better informed in future.

Yours faithfully, Cllr. Sam Souster, RDC, Rye Ward.