Will County Allow Tilling Green to Use the Ex-Primary School as a Community Centre?
By Jim Hollands
Do I detect a weakening in County Council’s resolve NOT to let Tilling
Green use the closed school building as a Community Centre?
At the official forming of the Tilling Green Community Association it became evident that there is a determined push by residents for the building to be opened for public use and County Councillor Keith Glazier is looking into every possibility of achieving that aim without piling too much responsibility on residents for the running of the Centre. He outlined plans for other agencies to use the building in tandem with the Residents Association.
It may be that this has to be, but I did observe a hint of his underestimating the abilities of residents to organise and maintain the building off their own bat. There are many talented people living on Tilling Green and a population of over 2,000 is much greater than that of many small villages who operate and maintain Village Halls financed by community spirit that raises money at many and varied uses of their premises. Tilling Green is near enough to Rye Town Centre to attract enough from a 5,000 populate for open money raising events staged at the site to be more than successful.
The Estate, which has been robbed of its Post Office as well as the school, is devoid of any public meeting place. The nearest pub is a quarter of a mile away! The empty building was in very good repair when it closed. Built by craftsmen, in Sussex brick, its life span should be over 100 years, so there are at least 50 good years in it yet. The adjoining ground is a registered sports area and should stay that way. There has already been enough planning given for housing in the immediate vicinity, 135 dwellings, including 40% ‘affordable homes’ whatever that means. Why does Rye need more ‘affordable homes’ in the same area? Why knock down a ‘quality’ building and build another, much smaller, Community Centre on the same spot?
If the people of Tilling Green show they can fully use and maintain, the existing building and grounds as a place of community activities, I feel sure that County would realise the site has a much more useful life than for more ‘affordable housing’.
The housing estate was built by Rye Borough Council immediately after the War and was filled largely with Ryers from the dilapidated and overcrowded buildings within the town. A great deal of the Rye’s population moved into new homes for the first time in their lives. They looked after and loved their homes and a fantastic community spirit grew. I know this because my family was lucky enough to get one of the first houses built. I grew up in Mason Road.
Many families still live in those same homes today. When I visit Tilling Green I am happy to see that same spirit remaining. Talking to a gentleman at the meeting who came to Rye and purchased a house in Pottingfield Road it pleased me no end to hear that he and his family were immediately “Made at home” and never before had experienced such friendly neighbours.
Tilling Green has, for years, been treated badly by both Rother and County. Rye Town Council even had to provide four street lights out of its small precept when Rother should have provided for many more years ago. Next to nothing has been done for the largest conglomerate of our population for years. Now is the time for County to make amends by providing the means for them to use the redundant building.