Sussex Wildlife Trust launches £multi-million project for Rye Harbour

24 November 2017 | Posted in SWT News , Rye Harbour , Discovery Centre
Sussex Wildlife Trust launches £multi-million project for Rye Harbour
Artist's impression of Rye Harbour Discovery Centre

Sussex Wildlife Trust is launching a new £multi-million project to engage future generations in wildlife conservation.

The project – “Discover Rye Harbour” – will see the establishment of a major new Discovery Centre at the largest of its nature reserves in both East and West Sussex – the vast landscape of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. In addition to a broad range of new activities, walks, talks, education, training and research, the new scheme will be the largest project ever undertaken by the Sussex Wildlife Trust, and is set to engage over 350,000 people in the wonders of nature.

The project is a joint venture between the Sussex Wildlife Trust and the 2000-strong Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve which has been campaigning for a new visitor centre to support the Reserve for years. After months of development, the largest element of the scheme – the new Discovery Centre itself – received unanimous planning permission from the local authority, Rother District Council, at a key meeting on November 16th. Hailing it as a jewel in the region’s crown, one councillor stood up to describe the Reserve as “Truly, the Garden of Eden transported from Mesopotamia”.

Covering over 1100 acres, the Reserve is recognised as one of the most important sites for nature and wildlife in Britain. Already possessing every national level of protection possible, in 2016, the wetlands, saltmarsh and lagoons it contains were also recognised by the global Ramsar Convention as a site of international importance for migrating birds and other threatened species.

Carole Nicholson, Chairman of Sussex Wildlife Trust said the new project was a vital part of the Trust’s overall vision for nature and wellbeing across the entire region. “We want Sussex to be a place where people and wildlife can thrive together. This isn’t just about making sure they have access to nature, but really engage with it, learn about it, and help care for it for future generations.

“Our new Discover Rye Harbour project is all about that – it will not just be a fantastic, eco-friendly building, but it will involve a whole range of exciting projects to involve people in the natural world on their doorstep.”

The new Discovery Centre has been designed by internationally-renowned architects Simpson & Brown, whose previous work includes new visitor centres at leading heritage sites including Riveaulx Abbey, Eltham Palace and the Scottish Seabird Centre near Edinburgh.

Find out more about the Rye Harbour Discovery Centre project here.


  • stephen hill:

    30 Nov 2017 13:13:43

    Hello This sounds wonderful and we will be looking forward to come visit and stay nearby. Great news for everyone.

  • Geraldine Barry:

    30 Nov 2017 13:46:40

    I would like to find out more about Rye Harbour Discovery Centre project
    Thank you
    Geraldine Barry

  • Graham Wilkins:

    30 Nov 2017 15:59:31

    Whilst I welcome a new visitor centre at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, the downside will be the increase in visitor numbers to this special area. Already this year on certain days during the Summer months, the car park has been over crowded and the number of visitors has been more akin to Trafalgar Square than a quiet nature reserve. Mixed feelings about this I am sorry to say.

  • 30 Nov 2017 16:55:00

    Geraldine, thank you for your comment, please visit our Rye Harbour Discovery Project webpages to find out more:

  • Jim:

    30 Nov 2017 17:42:37

    Alarmed! No mention of funding? No £‘s, no centre. Please reassure there is a realistic funding stream somewhere.

  • David Phillips:

    30 Nov 2017 17:49:07

    Congratulations to all involved ! A superb reserve that has built in interest over the years and fully deserving of a state of the art interpretive centre .

  • 30 Nov 2017 17:56:53

    Hi Graham, thank you for your comment. Our objective is to extend the visitor period throughout the year by providing facilities for shelter during the colder/wetter months and improve the visitor experience. We’ll also be promoting sustainable/public transport to the site to minimise the impact of cars.

  • Mark Roberts:

    30 Nov 2017 17:58:51

    Great Idea and good looking design no mention of the multi-million pound funding, will heritage lottery funding be applied for.

  • 30 Nov 2017 18:01:26

    Hi Mark, thank you for your comment. The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve have pledged £1.5m, with most of that amount coming from a generous legacy from David and Joyce Layton. The Sussex Wildlife Trust has appointed an experienced fund-raiser to raise the rest from donations, grants and a public appeal.

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