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East Sussex High Street Initiative

Some thoughts on short term measures to improve the High Street, given that road closure/pedestrianisation is off the agenda.

We had another busy weekend in Rye and the High Street was full of visitors, many of whom chose to walk on the road when there was a lull in traffic. There would be a significant safety, environmental and ambience benefit in implementing some temporary measures to better enable the sharing of this space to the benefit of the majority of users. To that end the Rye Conservation Society would support the following:

- To suspend the parking bays along the core stretch of the High Street between the Hilders Cliff corner and West St which would remove only 18 (legal) parking bays, but would make an enormous difference for pedestrians by creating more space for them. If these parking spaces are suspended, the parking machines proposed for the High Street may not be required, therefore freeing up that pavement space.

- To discourage illegal parking, to slow down through traffic and to help define the increased pedestrian space, install temporary street furniture, e.g. planters at strategic points in both the suspended parking bays and where illegal parking is prevalent. Some of these could perhaps be mounted on (lockable) wheels so they can be manoeuvred as required to allow necessary loading. Temporary planters needn’t be expensive, for example re-conditioned (or 'up-cycled’ as they say) apple crates could be fittingly Rye. Other temporary measures such as road bars would also be helpful to slow the traffic flow.

- Subject to limitations of available parking powers, it would be useful to make remaining bays Disabled Only on Hilders Cliff and outside Herringtons on the High St.

- Revisit road sign information, in particular on the A268 approaches to the town along Station Approach, Cinque Port and Tower Street. At present they repeatedly indicate directions to the ’Town Centre’ through the Landgate therefore encouraging visitors straight past numerous parking opportunities to end up on the High Street.

Temporarily covering ’Town Centre’ in vinyl with alternative text stating ‘Access Only’ would be more helpful. A more comprehensive re-signing should be considered as part of the longer term transport review.

I believe that the suggestion of removing the parking on the High Street from Hilders Cliff to West Street should be adopted as an experiment for a period up to say the end of September. It would facilitate access to the shops and social distancing as well as allowing out door seating to the cafes that are all on the sunny south side, areas to be designated by mobile planters. The restriction on parking could be limited to say 9 to 6 pm which would allow residents to use it over night. But who would enforce it until the CPE scheme comes into force? The hope is that it would show that Rye could prosper without parking along this length of the High Street in the long term and that this is an ideal time to see if it is viable as an idea.

We hope there will be a good constructive debate on these issues even without the option of a full meeting.

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