Support Our Colour
Support Our Colour
The George has had a retrospective planning application for its external paint colour refused – which has left us with no option but to appeal formally. We are not ones to court public attention, but if we are forced to re-paint the George you will all hear about this anyway, hence our approach to you today.
We are asking if you could submit a comment or letter to support our appeal. The easiest way to do this is by email, sent for the attention of the Planning Inspectorate using the email address: [email protected] referencing: APP/U1430/W/23/3324343 and APP/U1430/Y/23/3324344.
All emails need to be sent no later than Monday 15th January.
We ask that you support the choice of colour that the George Hotel was painted in 2021 after the fire, in the context that:
– The colour has been referenced to a previous colour that that building was painted, by a respected heritage paint consultant whose report shows The George had been painted a range of colours in the nineteenth century, including the light brown colour palette it is painted now.
– There are many buildings in Rye’s citadel that are not white, as shown here. White/grey is not necessarily “correct” because it was painted that most recently; this is a matter of personal taste and historical fashion.
– Forcing the hotel to be re-painted at this stage would cause disruption to High Street businesses and traders, with extensive scaffolding required and with the need to redecorate in the summer.
– The George is the town’s main employer and if we are forced to repaint the building, this would be at a significant cost, adding financial pressure onto the business which has recently re-opened. Planning fees and repainting works are anticipated to total in the region of £100,000.
– The George contributes a considerable amount in terms of additional visitor spend for retailers, bars, restaurants and food & drink suppliers in the local economy – as well as the positive press and reputation a quality hotel brings to the destination – a key employer is being put at risk for the sake of a paint colour that we were encouraged to use, by the authority who has since refused both applications and now left us in a vulnerable position.
– The George’s refurbishment (with its new external paint colour) earned it the 2023 Sussex Heritage Award (commercial category); this is a significant award which is unlikely to have been awarded to The George if the new colour was considered inappropriate to Rye’s historic townscape by its judging panel – see the Awards here.
– We went to great lengths to select the appropriate type of paint, a sustainable non-toxic and breathable paint from Keim Paints, which has sound heritage credentials – see their report here; a robust case has also been made by both our heritage and planning consultants.
– The debate around appropriateness of colour is subjective and driven by personal taste. Rother’s Conservation Officer at the time insisted that we did not re-paint The George its previously used grey-white colour, and so we adopted a previously used colour as evidenced by historical samples taken from the building and using expert paint analysis. This research showed The George indeed was a range of colours in the nineteenth century, not just a white or cream palette – with previous shades of colour include dark and brown tones. Rye’s High Street today also shows the use of colour on painted stucco rendered buildings, woodwork and window frames. The Conservation Officer however left their position and the Council’s view has since changed.
– You may be in a position to comment positively about the appropriateness of the new colour in context of:
– its surrounding historical townscape
– its prominent corner setting on the High Street
– how it blends into the High Street, with the range of coloured paints used on nearby stucco rendered buildings, woodwork and windows, also the tones of the brickwork and hanging tiles.
Why are we in this position?
1. The Conservation Officer at the time was under resourced, being given both the role of Conservation Officer and Planning Case Officer on our project, which is not usual for an application of such complexity. The impact of Covid did not help. This led to delays for plans to be uploaded to the planning portal for public consultation, with planning permission taking over 15 months to eventually come through.
2. When we submitted our proposals to the Conservation Officer at the time, it was supported: the Conservation Officer’s email of 18/12/20 reads “I have finally had a chance to look at all the documents relating to the façade and ballroom, and support it all! – it really does appear that the additional research was all very much worth it. I’m sure the new colour scheme to the façade will keep Rye busy for a while and may even be the harbinger of a new colour culture!”.
3. Given the challenging nature of the rebuilding project, we would never have proceeded to paint the building if we felt it was not supported by the Conservation Officer at the time – as far as we were concerned the paint colour had that Officer’s agreement and therefore Rother’s full support – after all the Officer was acting with two hats, Conservation and Planning. If we had waited for Rother District Council to officially approve the application, the building would have deteriorated further and we needed to get the property repaired and the business open.
4. The Conservation Officer at the time then left the position, and when the colour scheme was finally uploaded to the planning portal with a corresponding heritage report, it was met with resistance from the Rye Conservation Society, whose letter openly accused Rother of failing to follow due process in giving them sufficient time to consider the colour scheme and act in their role as Consultee. There would appear to be a difference of interpretation of the paint analysis report which was used to select the current colours, as RCS consider the “paint scheme that has been chosen departs from the colours shown in the paint analysis report” – see a recent letter from Catherine Hassall which clarifies this. Rye Town Council supported the application.
5. We were told by Rother if we wanted our application approved (which we did as we have a mortgage), we would have to remove the external paint colour from the application. We then applied for the colour on a retrospective basis, which was then refused.
So we hope this summary goes some way to answering why we are in the position we are in today. Which is why we ask you to email the Planning Inspectorate of your support. It is not only local people who can comment or give their support to our appeal, anyone who has a connection with Rye or The George can do so.
Thank you for your time in reading and this and for your support again.
Alex & Katie Clarke
Owners of The George Hotel (since 2004)
Links used in the text and other links of interest: