Proposed Submission Core Strategy

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10. RYE AND RYE HARBOUR

Scope and Issues

(2) 10.1 Rye is a historic market town in the eastern half of the district near the Kent border. The town is the main service and employment centre in eastern Rother. Rye Harbour is satellite village to Rye and is located to the south east of the town. The area surrounding Rye is heavily constrained physically but has in recent years has seen growth to the west of the town. The population of Rye Parish is recorded as being 4,281 in 2010. Some parts of Rye’s built up areas encroach into other adjacent parishes (Rye Foreign, Playden and Icklesham) and the population figures rises to over 5,000. In Rye in 2010 over 13% of the population are aged between 65-74 and almost 9% are aged between 75-84; nationally, the figure for the population aged between 65-74 is 8.7%13

(2) 10.2 Rye is a successful market town attracting significant number of visitors in the summer months. As a Cinque Port town, the town centre around and including the ancient Citadel, forms the historic core, designated as a Conservation Area in 1969, and reviewed in 200614. The town centre is of very high architectural value, with a predominantly medieval street layout and building stock, while equally important is the town’s visual appearance in the landscape, with the Citadel on a sandstone outcrop rising like an island above the low lying surrounding salt marshes and tidal waters.

(2) 10.3 In Rye there are significant pockets of social and economic deprivation within the town with high levels of child poverty, relatively low levels of income, high unemployment rates and significant barriers to housing and services 15.

(2) 10.4 The local economy of Rye and the surrounding areas is dominated by local tourism. Rye enjoys an abundance of high quality hotels and guest houses located within the town itself. Approximately 70% of the Guest Houses and Bed and Breakfasts located in Rye have been awarded a 4 star or higher rating, with 25% of these providers achieving the highest possible rating of 5 star GOLD. The main attraction is the historic core of the town and the surrounding countryside. The Port of Rye and Rye Harbour Road Industrial Estate are also main centres of employment for the town and the surrounding settlements. However the local economy suffers from high seasonal unemployment relating to the tourism sector and wages are relatively poor compared to County and regional levels.

(2) 10.5 The countryside surrounding Rye is subject to a number of environmental designations, signifying its landscape character and conservation importance. There are a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs), and Sites of Nature Conservation Importance. There is a proposal from Natural England to designate a Ramsar site to the south east of Rye. In addition, much of the surrounding area to the north and west is classed as the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and there are a number of Ancient Woodlands

(2) 10.6 Rye is situated at the eastern end of the district making it an important crossroads for transport routes. The principal transport link is the A259 trunk road and carries the majority of medium and longer distance east-west traffic. The trunk road at certain sections experiences heavy congestion and journey times can be lengthy. During the summer months many visitors come to Rye in their cars and traffic management is a priority for the town. The town is also served by the East Coastway rail link between Ashford and Hastings. There is an aspiration to upgrade rail infrastructure to dual tracking and electrification to shorten journey times between major centres.

Objectives

(1) 10.7 The Strategic Objective with regard to Rye and Rye Harbour Village is:

‘To improve the economic and social well-being of Rye and Rye Harbour, including in relation to its market town role, tourism and the Port of Rye, whilst fully respecting and sensitively managing its historic character, vulnerability to flooding and ecologically important setting.’

(1) 10.8 The following objectives provide further detail on how the Strategic Objective will be realised:

(1) Rye & Rye Harbour Objectives:

  1. To work with stakeholders to improve traffic management, tackle congestion and promote sustainable transport measures;

  2. To work with agencies to support and promote strategic transport links from Rye to the wider locality;

  3. To improve access to high quality education, employment and housing;

  4. To enhance sustainable tourism and leisure;

  5. To improve the availability of day to day goods and services;

  6. To secure investment in community facilities and in new and/or improved pedestrian and cycle routes linking residents to their facilities;

  7. To conserve and enhance the unique built character and quality of the Citadel and its distinctive landscape setting;

  8. To protect and sensitively manage the high quality ecological and landscape resources;

  9. To continue to manage, and protect the community from, the risk of flooding.

General Strategy for Rye and Rye Harbour

(2) 10.9 The strategy for Rye and Rye Harbour is to retain and strengthen the role of Rye as a service centre supporting retail, culture and social infrastructure; provide modest and balanced employment growth to create jobs and opportunities to meet the needs of existing and new residents. There should be quality year round employment, with less reliance on seasonal/tourist activity and promotion of green tourism opportunities. Consideration will be given for residential development within the built up area while acknowledging and being sympathetic to the historic core and character of the town. Rye has diverse year round activities and includes a number of popular festivals including the Scallop Festival and Medieval Festival. Support will be given to additional sustainable tourist facilities and leisure development which extends the season by providing diverse year-round activities.

(1) 10.10 The Strategy will also promote the town’s role as a wider visitor centre. Key assets such as the historic core will be respected and enhanced where possible. The high quality landscape setting that surrounds Rye contributes to the distinctive character of the town. An objective of the Strategy would be to maintain the high quality landscape surrounding Rye. In addition opportunities will be investigated to carefully develop leisure and tourism attractions at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and the surrounding countryside.

(1) 10.11 Support will be given to the promoting sustainable transport alternatives to the car in order to tackle the high levels of traffic congestion experienced in the area especially during the summer months. Priority will also be given to enhancement of accessibility across the town centre, the railway station and to employment areas. In addition, the Strategy would employ a strategic approach with the relevant agencies to seek improvements to the East Coastway Line, the strategic trunk road (A259), public transport links to other centres Hastings, Ashford and the surrounding villages, through effective and managed efficiencies on the existing network.

Key Development Sites

(2) 10.12 Due to its topographical and landscape context and statutory designations, Rye is heavily constrained and further opportunity for development on the periphery of the town is confined. The strategy for Rye and Rye Harbour is the development of key development sites and infill within the built up urban area. In the Strategy Directions Plan the level of housing growth for Rye and Rye Harbour is derived from assessment of the district-wide spatial distribution options and based upon the relative service roles of towns and villages in the district recommended 450 dwellings in the plan period. Given the environmental constraints surrounding Rye; the uncertainty surrounding the deliverability of existing allocations and limited opportunity within the existing built up environment it would be appropriate to adopt a range for housing growth to allow for some flexibility. An appropriate range for housing growth in Rye and Rye Harbour will be 250-350 dwellings up to 2028 including existing allocations. (See Appendix 3 for components of housing supply.) The process of identifying key sites suitable for development will be undertaken in the Site Allocations Development Plan Document.

Retail Requirement

(1) 10.13 Rye has limited choice in terms of convenience foodstores within the town. The Core Strategy will continue to support the town centre as the main retail development area. A significant number of residents do their main weekly food shop outside Rye at other centres such as Hastings, Tenterden and Peasmarsh. The Rother District Wide Retail Assessment, 2008 has identified a deficiency in convenience floorspace in the town and advocates a need for an additional 1,650 sq.m of convenience retail floorspace to address the shortfall. Retail developers have registered an interest in acquiring a presence in Rye and Rother district Council advocate working closely with interested parties to secure a viable, appropriate development for the community. Until such a development is realised further investigation on achieving a suitable retail development within the town centre or adjacent to it will continue as part of the work on the Site Allocations DPD.

Connectivity and Traffic Management

(1) 10.14 The main policy framework for transport issues at a County wide level is Local Transport Plan 3. At a local level it is the Rye Local Area Transport Strategy (LATS). Rye experiences significant traffic congestion in the summer as the town’s population expands due to visitors. The town is also relatively isolated from other major centres with inadequate infrastructure to support significant connectivity.

The Council will work with ESCC to improve accessibility and connectivity through greater efficiencies in the strategic network and effective traffic management to help reduce congestion on the local network.

The Economy and Employment

(1) 10.15 The main employment area in the area is Rye Harbour Road. Rye Commercial activity on Rye Harbour Road supports approximately 10% of the total jobs in Rye and the surrounding areas. Approximately 10,000 sq m of land for employment is appropriate for the Rye Harbour Road area within the plan period 16. Further work on suitable sites will be investigated in the Site Allocation DPD.

(1) 10.16 Employment will continue to centre on Rye Harbour Road industrial estate and consolidating the activities of the Port of Rye. The Council’s strategy focuses on maintaining and strengthening Rye’s main employment areas, whilst allowing a range of other sites to develop in order to provide a variety of opportunities. These are considered the most sustainable locations for employment and provide significant new employment opportunities.

(2) 10.17 The close proximity of the Port of Rye to the Dungeness Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Dungeness to Pett Level Special Protection Area (SPA) and proposed extension to the SPA and proposed Ramsar site requires that potential future expansion of port related activities and business expansion on Rye Harbour Road should give due consideration to Conservation of Habitats & Species Regulations 2010. Schemes and proposals that would lead to an adverse effect on the integrity of Dungeness internationally designated sites must be fully mitigated and/or adequate compensatory provision would need to be made to ensure that the overall coherence of the Natura 2000 network was maintained.

(1) 10.18 Air quality is a specific issue that must be considered in future port expansion and business development applications (including increased shipping and associated road traffic within 200 m of the international sites). In order for compliance with Habitat Regulations it will be necessary, in particular, for future planning applications relating to port activity and business development related expansion to determine the number of vehicle movements per day 17 related to the proposal and whether:

  1. the increase in vehicle movements along Harbour Road will cumulatively constitute less than 200 Heavy Duty Vehicles/day: or

  2. they exceed 200 HDV’s per day but make a contribution to nitrogen deposition equivalent to or less than 1% of the critical load for the most sensitive habitat within the site (i.e. less than 0.1 kgN/ha/yr).

Development of Green Tourism

(1) 10.19 Although Rye has a strong tourism economy, it is important that a range of industries are provided to help diversify and strengthen the economy. The existing main employment areas have an important role to play in continuing to provide new opportunities for employment. This includes the refurbishment, intensification and redevelopment of sites, especially for the more traditional types of employment that are still vital to the town’s economy. However, other new, emerging sectors such as Green Tourism would be considered as appropriate, viable and sustainable for developing the local economy will provide a unique opportunity to attract high value firms to the town especially as Rye is enveloped by high quality landscapes with a wide range of bio-diversity. Support will be given to working with stakeholders to promote Rye as green tourism centre.

(1) 10.20 It is acknowledged that there is a requirement for the sensitive management of tourism (from local sources and those further afield) in the Dungeness complex of internationally important wildlife sites. To retain their conservation status and preserve their integrity there will be requirement for effective management measures to be implemented and agreed with the relevant stakeholders and agencies in parallel with the promotion of future tourism and recreational activity in the area around the Dungeness international sites. These may include increased wardening, dissemination of guidelines/advice to the public, screening of recreational activities, changes in site access/routing of footpaths or managing visitor numbers to areas of interest and will also involve the implementation of appropriate monitoring arrangements and the development of a sustainable access strategy to manage visitor numbers in order to ensure that increased recreational activity does not lead to an adverse effect on the integrity of the sites.

(1) 10.21 Further plans/projects promoting (or which are otherwise likely to lead to) increased tourist/visitor use of the Dungeness European sites and specific projects/developments will be required to undertake Habitat Regulation Assessments (HRA) to confirm that they will not lead to adverse impacts on the European sites. Plans and/projects will not be permitted until an HRA has been undertaken in conjunction with operators, Natural England and other relevant stakeholders. Further details are provided in the Habitat Regulations Assessment of the Core Strategy.

Environment

(1) 10.22 The district-wide strategy for the Environment is set out in Chapter 16, and this includes landscape, historic built environment, design quality, biodiversity and greenspace, and managing flood risk. Given the specific environmental context of Rye, with its high quality historic built environment and public realm, the distinctive character of its landscape setting, its proximity to internationally protected habitats and its exposure to potential flooding, the consideration of and compliance with these policies will be of paramount importance.

(1) 10.23 The following policy sets out how the Strategic Objective and objectives will be achieved.

(9) Policy RY1: Policy Framework for Rye and Rye Harbour

Proposals for development and change in Rye and Rye Harbour Village will:

  1. Promote efficiencies and improvements to the strategic transport network to improve connectivity between Rye and other major urban centres;

  2. Support traffic management on the local road network, promote sustainable alternatives to the car and implement the objectives stated in Local Transport Plan 3 and the Rye Local Area Transport Strategy;

  3. Preserve and enhance the character and historic environment of the Citadel and the wider landscape setting of the town, whilst retaining the centre of Rye as the main focus for retail and services for the town;

  4. Increase the choice of convenience shopping in Rye by facilitating the increase of some 1,650 sq m net additional convenience floorspace within or adjacent to the town centre;

  5. Provide between 250 and 350 dwellings net additional dwellings between 2011 and 2028. Opportunities for growth will primarily be sought within the built up area of Rye;

  6. Seek to secure and maintain effective flood defences for Rye and Rye Harbour, whilst also minimising and managing flood risk, including in relation to the location of new development in accordance with other criteria;

  7. Promote at least 10,000 sq m of employment floorspace at Rye Harbour Road industrial estate to promote economic regeneration and job creation, having particular regard to protecting the integrity of internationally designated habitats;

  8. Maintain and enhance navigation on the River Rother and the viability of the Port of Rye as a working harbour, having particular regard to protecting the integrity of internationally designated habitats;

  9. Promote green tourism initiatives, including careful management of the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, which protect the integrity, and where possible enhance the internationally important ecological interests;

  10. Tackle social exclusion and promote opportunities for young people to access education, community facilities, employment and leisure;

  11. Maintain and enhance the community, cultural and tourism assets of both Rye and Rye Harbour village; and

  12. Maintain a strategic gap between Rock Channel and the industrial estate at Rye Harbour Road.


13 ESIF Rye Parish Profile 2010 14 Rye Conservation Area Appraisal 2006 15 ESIF Rye Parish Profile 2010 16 Hastings and Rother Employment Land Review 2008 17 The standards identified above are taken from the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges and from Environment Agency Horizontal Guidance H1 regarding air quality impacts from point sources. It will also be necessary for an air quality assessment to be undertaken which includes increased nitrogen deposition from shipping emissions
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