Who decides how many new homes should be built in Rye?   

We know that in England there is shortage of homes and in particular affordable homes. This problem lies at the heart of the country’s housing crisis. With an increasing population (in 2014, the government estimates some 40-50k per year) this shortage will only get worse, unless we can increase the delivery of new dwellings. In 2014, new building is increasing, but there is need for more.

Locally, Rother District Council (Rother DC) forecasters, on the basis of population forecasts and land availability, have to match their own development plans with national targets. The estimate across the district has to reflect future changes in population, which may result in more people in the age groups over 75 and from 45 to 64, with some decrease in younger age groups.

In Rother, average home occupancy is below the national average at 2.4 people. Demographic trends indicate that by 2028 the local average could be closer to 2 people, with many homes occupied by single older people. Therefore the local demand is likely to be a mix of affordable homes and units for the elderly into which they can downsize.

Rother’s research led strategy for future development (dwellings and business premises), on which officers have been working for 18 months has been subject to an external inspection. This has resulted in a prolonged debate about Rother’s share of the national government’s target housing numbers. After modifications this now appears to have been resolved.

The strategy if accepted by the Councillors of Rother DC in September, will set a target of 5,700 new homes across the district to 2028 with some 3100 dwellings falling in an urban extension to the north-east of the main town of Bexhill.  In addition to homes there should be some 100,000 square metres of gross additional business floor space.

This work has provided something of a backdrop to the first year’s work on the Rye Neighbourhood Plan, as the latter has to conform to the Rother DC strategy. Through close and detailed work with Rother DC officers, the Rye plan takes account of the modified Rye slice of the Rother DC totals:   400 dwellings and 20,000sqm business space by 2028.

The Rye figures are grouped for historical reasons with Rye Harbour, where some 40 dwellings are proposed and significant business development is being planned at Rye Wharf, which will account for most of the business floor space target.

For the 400 dwellings in Rye,  after removing the 40 in Rye Harbour and all the committed development (buildings in various state of advanced planning or under way) around 200:

                                             the target balance for new dwellings to 2028 becomes 160.

The Rye Neighbourhood Plan survey which is under way provides clues as to where new dwellings might be located as it specifies  the former Tilling Green School site; the Winchelsea Road broad location, Rock Channel and the former Freda Gardham school site.

It is not too late to complete a survey and have your say.  Details are available on our website


All these issues will continue to be discussed by the Rye Town Council planning committee (next meeting 28 July) which has a permanent item for Neighbourhood Plan business. Rye councillors will be considering the impacts of this growth in Rye over the next 15 years and the necessary work to ensure that any additional infrastructure (medical capacity, educational facilities, community centres, road and other transport improvements and so on) is reflected in the policies of the Rye Neighbourhood Plan.


Anthony Kimber lives in Rye and contributes to the community as Chair Rye Emergency Action Community Team, President Rye Royal British Legion, Chair Friends of the St Mary's Church and Vice Chair of the Rye Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group. In recent years he has worked as a consultant on risk and resilience issues. He has experience as a strategic planner in Whitehall and abroad and has attended several seminars on Neighbourhood Planning.

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