The campaign in Rye started when residents found out that East Sussex County Council was negotiating to sell land to Tesco at the Thomas Peacocke Community College, though the Local Plan designated the land for housing and a GP surgery, and though many residents felt a supermarket was not an appropriate use of the land. Residents set up the Campaign of Residents Opposed to a Second Supermarket. Despite years of negotiations between Tesco and the County Council it was announced in June 2010 that Sainsbury's had bought the site.
The fight to open a supermarket in Rye has dragged on for nearly four years since both Tesco and Sainsbury were granted planning permission by Rother District Council to build on the same site behind Ferry Road.
When planning permission was granted for the store on the former Lower School site earlier in the year, a number of planning conditions were imposed on Sainsbury's. A key conditions required the widening of the pedestrian footway on the Ferry Road level crossing. Network Rail says the work is scheduled to take place as part of a full crossing upgrade in 2019 and if Sainsbury’s wanted to bring the work forward, it would have to pay the full cost of £2million. But a spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said the cost would make the scheme ‘financially unviable’.
Sainsbury’s submitted plans to Rother District Council for a new 18,590sqft store and 163 car parking spaces.