Rye Property Handbook

ASHTAV decided to publish this excellent property guide, despite it not being adopted as a supplementary planning document. It was probably not adopted because it is too expert and includes no evidence of the wide consultation required.

This handbook is intended to provide guidance to owners and occupiers of residential and commercial properties within the Conservation Area regarding the practical steps which need to be taken to ensure that our historic heritage is handed down to succeeding generations.

Whilst recognising that same change is inevitable and/or desirable to’ maintain ‘a living town, there are certain conservation standards which must be met.

This handbook deals with:

1. Requirements for Planning Permission for Listed Buildings and Non-Listed Buildings

2. Maintenance and Repair of Properties

3. Sources of further advice.

1. Requirements for Planning Permission

Rye Conservation Area is the subject of special constraints which may differ from those you have experienced in anther areas. If you are contemplating any work to your property which could be interpreted as ‘development and you are in any doubt, always ask for advice before you begin. If your house or shop is ‘listed’ there are restrictions as to what changes you can make to the inside as well as to the outside. Be warned that ‘development’ is an all-embracing term that may well include the modest renovation, alteration or extension that you are contemplating. A Special Direction in Rye requires you to’ seek permission prior to’ changing the colour of any exterior paint-work.

Advice is readily to hand and will cast you no more than a telephone call see Section 3.

Living and working as we do’ within an outstanding Conservation Area of national significance places responsibilities upon all of us – householders and shop-keepers alike. Neglect these responsibilities and our attractiveness, along with the economic well-being of the Town, can only diminish – quite apart from the fact that you may well be breaking the law.

In addition to normal Planning Permission it is likely that you will also’ need Listed Building Consent from Rather District Council. Listing covers the whole building, and approval is required to alter any part of it which affects its character. Virtually all properties in the Rye Conservation Area are listed.

It is not the purpose of the legislation to make it impossible to alter a listed building – rather to ensure that any alterations are carried out in an appropriate fashion, so that the architectural and historic value of the property is not compromised. It is important that historic features such as original joinery, fireplaces, plaster-work or panelling are retained, and that new work is carefully detailed to marry in with the existing building. Extensions to listed buildings may be acceptable, but they must be very carefully designed, and subordinate to the character of the original property.

Repairs do not usually require consent if they are carried out to match strictly the original materials and detailing. Demolition of any part of a listed building, like the removal of chimney stacks, require specific consent since the Local Planning Authority has powers to prosecute owners of listed buildings who carry out work without permission, and the Courts can impose an unlimited fine, or up to twelve months in prison, or both on conviction.

Enforcement action, to reinstate the building to its original appearance, can also follow.

The Rother District Council Planning Department is normally very helpful and can advise you, but you may wish to consider the appointment of a suitably qualified adviser, such as an architect or chartered surveyor, who can prepare drawings and a specification for you; and this may well save you money in the long run.

We set out below some very basic guidelines that apply to all buildings in the Rye Conservation Area — more detailed information is contained in the Rother District Council Planning Handbook, obtainable free from Rother Homes’ Cinque Ports Street Office.


§ . An extension should always be subordinate in bulk and scale to the original dwelling.

§ . It should always respect the form and character of the original building and should normally employ the same design elements.

§ It must respect the privacy and amenities enjoyed by the occupants of adjoining properties and not infringe “rights of light.”


§ Flat roofs are not normally permitted.

§ Only a limited range of hand made plain clay tiles or natural slates are acceptable.

§ . Dormer windows are not generally acceptable in cat-slide roofs.

§ . Roof-lines should generally be parallel to those of the existing building and eaves lines should follow through.

§ . Roof-lights may not always be acceptable.

Window openings

§ Proportions and the solid to glass relationship should reflect the original or existing pattern.
§ PVCU, aluminium and modern ‘storm proof’ timber windows are not permitted, nor are proprietary double-glazed units.
§ Replacement windows should reflect the same thickness of frames and glazing bars.
§ Old glass should be slaved for re-use.
§ Dormer windows
§ Dormer windows are not always acceptable and should preferably be located alt the rear to be less conspicuous.
§ The cheek walls should be as thin as possible consistent with traditional details.


§ Replacement doors should be appropriate to the style of the building.

§ Aluminium frames and fake moulded panel doors are not normally permitted.
Shop fronts.

§ Shop fronts are extremely important to the overall attractiveness of the Town and are sensitive in planning terms – do nothing without advice.

§ Design must be as an in1egral part of the architectural composition of the whale building – appropriate to’ the property and the locality, taking accoun1 of the visual rhythm and characteristics of the surrounding street.


§ Advertisement consent is likely to be required for the display, repainting or replacement of mast signs including sign writing on shop windows and projecting signs.

§ Projecting signs must always be appropriate and should take the form of a swinging sign made from natural materials and hung from a wrought iron bracket.
§ Box signs and signs projecting from part of the fascia are not appropriate.
§ Mass produced plastic signs are out of character.
§ Internally illuminated signs are not permitted. Also undesirable are permanent white or coloured lighting effects which can distort o1herwise balanced levels of street lighting and become in themselves a form of visual pollution.
§ Separate regulations apply to the display of ‘A’ boards and other free standing notices on the footpath or affixed to lamp-posts or other street furniture.

Aerials and Satellite Dishes

These should be positioned unobtrusively, as far as possible invisible from street-level, and will need consent where a listed building is involved.
2. Maintenance and Repair of Properties

The over-riding principles are to prevent decay and to repair correctly and promptly where necessary, and to reinstate missing or damaged features using traditional matching materials. The following notes apply to non-listed as well as to listed buildings.


Employ a known local builder who understands the importance of the historic fabric. Consult the Rother District Conservation Officer.


Roofs should be checked at least once each year and missing tiles or slates replaced. Gutters, rain water pipes and gullies should be inspected and cleared regularly.
Beware repairing roofs by foam sprayed to the underside of slates. Even worse, never contemplate coating scrim and resin over old slates or tiles.
Note the importance of using traditional bonnet hip fittings.


Chimneys are extremely impart ant to the historic roofscape of Rye. Silicone treatment is not recommended far damp-proofing. It breaks dawn under ultra-violet light.

Gutters and Down Pipes

These need careful matching with the original and with the adjoining premises. Replacement cast iron to the same profile is available. The use of plastic is not generally permitted in the Conservation Area.

Walls and Elevations

Old brickwork needs careful treatment, with the use of lime mortar and the appropriate re-pointing profile. Cement mortar sets too hard and should not be used an old bricks because they are porous and they will crumble away unless the rainwater can get away through the mortar joints.

Mathematical tiling should be carefully recognised and restored.
Avoid painting or coating brickwork and tile-hanging. Bricks and tiles need to breathe, otherwise damp gets into the building and can cause rot.

Exterior Woodwork and Windows

Regular re-painting preserves woodwork. Use the same colour, but avoid brilliant white and black stain preservatives.
Rotten window sashes can be repaired with spliced-in sections.
If replacement is found to be necessary, do not accept modern soft-wood glazing bars that are too thick and heavy.
Proprietary double-glazed units are not acceptable in the Conservation Area.

The use of Scaffolding

A Licence is required to erect scaffolding an roads and pavements (available upon application to’ the Highway Authority – East Sussex County Council at Sidley Depot, Bexhill).
Elevations require careful protection when ‘tying in’ scaffolding.


Trees may not be felled, lapped or pruned in the Conservation Area before formal notice has been served on the Local Planning Authority which then has six weeks to consider whether to make an Order to protect the tree.


Special Features

Front doors, door-knockers, letter-plates, boat-scrapers, door furniture, fire surrounds, and occasionally mirrors, etc. These belong to the house or commercial property of which you are temporarily the guardian. If and when you leave, leave them behind!

Light and Noise Pollution

Within a close living environment, such things as external lighting, security lights, burglar alarms, ‘music’ from commercial premises, and the hum of extractor fans can all cause extreme annoyance where neighbours live so near each other.

3. Sources of Further Advice

The Hon. Secretary of Rye Conservation Society maintains a library of relevant leaflets and addresses, if further help and advice is needed.

These include: A summary of listed buildings in Rye Names of useful contacts A list of suppliers of traditional building materials Publications issued by English Heritage and others

The Conservation Officer of Rother District Council is able to advise on the appropriate treatment and materials in the particular circumstances.

A list of supervising architects and surveyors recommended for conservation work is maintained by his department.