One of the attractions of Rye is its commitment to seeking to preserve the town centre’s strong presence of independent retailers and to holding back the inexorable spread of branches of the ubiquitous High Street chains.
However, the difficulty with this strategy is evident from the steady attrition rate among independent traders who have to contend both with the town’s over reliance on the seasonal tourist trade and, for the moment at least, with the current, prolonged recession.
Any project which promises to breathe additional life into the town centre throughout the year should be welcomed and encouraged if it will assist the local retail trade and provide a valuable amenity to the residents of Rye and the surrounding communities.
It seems clear that the cinema project in Lion Street will in itself be an asset as an entertainment venue and will also stimulate the wider economy in Rye by its ‘multiplier effect’ on hotels, restaurants, pubs, shops, taxis, etc. The strongest objection to the scheme seems to turn on potential traffic and parking issues for a facility with a capacity for about 150 people at any time.
In this context it may be helpful to know of our experience at Lamb House, the National Trust property in West Street, Rye. The house is open to the public from 2pm to 6pm on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons from late March to late October each year and we routinely see between 70 and 150 visitors at each opening. There are no parking facilities in West Street at all, nor in the adjacent Mermaid Street and Church Square, but so far as I am aware there have never been any problems with our visitors parking illegally or causing traffic obstructions orcongestion.
Those who arrive by car, and I would estimate that comprises most of our visitors, clearly park elsewhere and
walk up West Street. I would not anticipate that the patrons of the proposed Kino Cinema would be any less considerate or respectful of the bye-laws than our visitors at Lamb House.
I understand that the Kino Cinema in Hawkhurst has provided a boost to that town’s local economy as well as giving cinema goers a good night (or afternoon) out; Rye should follow that lead.
Yours faithfully, Patrick Rogers, Lamb House, Rye.