Building Development Will Cause Flooding

By Cliff Bloomfield

I read with interest the article regarding a proposed housing development on the north side of Udimore Road in the April Issue. I think the points raised miss the main problems with such a scheme, that is the effect on the Tillingham Green Estate. In 1966 at that time I was serving the then Borough of Rye as the assistant surveyor, road flooding within the estate was becoming a problem during the winter months, it was caused when periods of heavy rain coincided with high tides, the Tillingham Sluice at Strand Quay would close thereby holding back an already swollen river level, flooding occurring initially within the estate road gullies rising to the pavement level, beginning within the cul de sac in Cooper Road and The Close, the flooding only subsiding once the tide had turned and the sluice reopened. Tilling Green lies on a natural flood plain, until 1934 when the first lock was built, on the site of the present sluice, before that time the river system preventing the formation of salt marshes and to create fresh grazing land, by the early 1930s the present sluice was built, today the estate remains surrounded by flood banks.

The following year I left the council, but at that time Mr C H Dobbie A.M.I.C.E. who had previously been the Chief Engineer to the Rother & Jurys Gut Catchment Board based in Rye, decided to become a consultant civil engineer, and was engaged by the council to produce a solution to this problem.

He proposed that two Archimedes Screw Pumps be installed to pump the flood water on to the tide locked Tillingham during these times, these were installed.

I do not know what free board was calculated, but there must be a limit, and the situation became critical this winter when a fault occurred with the Tillingham Sluice, the water was released four hours late, but this created pressure to another outfall at West Undercliff, the consequence was that one bungalow was inundated the others at the lower end of Ashenden Avenue were seriously threatened. There have been two recent applications for planning consent on land at West Undercliff and a site to the west of Winchelsea Road at Strand Quay, both were refused.

Now you may ask what has this to do with Udimore Road? This proposal lies on land with a catchment area that would threaten the flood plain, including Tilling Green, the run off from such a development would be immediate, from road and housing surfaces, there is a limit as to how much more storm water could be contained within the swollen river. Consider also at the base of this particular catchment area is a ditch that gathers the present run off, it flows along the edge of the Old Brickyard, much of its length is piped, continuing parallel with Ferry Road passes under Ferry Road at Ashenden Avenue and then flows as an open ditch into Gibbet Marsh to an outfall into the River Tillingham opposite the Mill, draining much of the West Undercliff marshes. After World War II Rye Borough Council were considering new housing development plans, a counsellor at that time, Dr Skinner resigned his position because of the proposal to develop housing on Tilling Green, he considered it unhealthy due to the wet nature of the marsh.

“Rye’s Own” June 2003

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