Build Frequently Asked Questions

Landscape Alan Leigh service trench aug 2020


A section of the main Access Road is currently completely closed including the footpath and the grass bank. This is caused by essential works relating to the centre. 

There is no access towards the sea beyond the information cabins - nor can you access Rye Harbour village coming from Winchelsea, except via the diversion (the last path before the main road - the one that leads to the Parkes and Denny hides).

Because of the nature of these works, this closure is crucial for the safety of construction staff and the public.

For this period of time, the only way to access the sea from Rye Harbour village (and vice versa) will be through the holiday park, or to take the path through the reserve, turning right at the information cabins. This is a significant diversion and, because of the loose surface, the path is not fully accessible for mobility scooters or buggies. 

We ask that all cyclists take alternative routes where possible, or dismount when passing people along this path diversion. 

We apologise for the temporary lack of access and advise that wheelchair users enter the reserve via the Winchelsea entrance using the Environment Agency road from the Dogs Hill car park. 

We would like to thank everyone for their continued support and understanding while these essential works are being carried out for the Rye Harbour Discovery Centre 

Access will be restored as soon as it is safe to do so, and we will be issuing regular updates here and on social media.

Why is part of the road closed?

A section is temporarily closed to protect visitors and workers whilst trench work is undertaken to provide essential services to the Discovery Centre. 

How can we access the reserve?

We would please request that visitors with mobility issues enter the reserve from the Winchelsea Beach end, using the Environment Agency road from the Dogs Hill car park.

There is a signposted, alternative route along the public footpath through the Rye Harbour Holiday Park, but this does have a very narrow bridge with a step, so this isn't suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs. 

What about cyclists?

We ask that all cyclists take alternative routes where possible, or dismount when passing people along this path diversion. 

What's it all about?

At the beginning of June, Baxall began installing a trench for services for the Discovery Centre along the main access road from the Rye Harbour car park, to the Discovery Centre. 

What does it mean in terms of access?

During this period, to ensure the safety of workers and the general public, there is disruption to the use of the Access Road. 

Diversions, limited access, a partial closure and a one way system are in place as and when necessary.  

Our contractors are making every effort to keep any disruption to a minimum whilst maintaining safety for everyone.

We will aim to restore full access as soon as we can, and will post regular updates.

What about social distancing?

We request that all visitors stay alert and monitor their own social distancing along the restricted sections of path.

All visitors are encouraged to take an alternative route where possible and to follow local signage.

What's happening, when?

The works are being completed in three phases.  

Where possible (and only if safe to do so), sections of the road and footpath have reopened when a phase has been completed.

What about wildlife?

Trial holes have been dug to check the ground structure and an ecological survey was carried out before any vegetation was cleared. Checks for wildlife, especially any nesting birds, have been conducted regularly along the route.

For more details about the trench, see here 

Build FAQs

There is staining on the concrete that looks like rust, what is this?

Websize concrete stain Glass   outside

This is known as 'tannin bleed' and is from the Sweet Chestnut used to clad the building. As the wood weathers, the tannins leach out. 

Once the wood has aged/weathered this process will slow up and eventually stop. There will be a thorough clean of the concrete where this has occurred to improve its appearance.

What's the roof made of?

A wooden roof cassette forms the structure, then there's a 'vapour control' layer, 130mm of insulation, followed by a single-ply membrane, which gives the finish and weather proofing.

What happens when there are very high tides?

The Discovery Centre has been designed to cope with the high tides that periodically cover the ground where the building is located, and indeed sometimes flow over the road. The floor of the building is raised 1.2m up above the road level so that it will remain unaffected by the ebb and flow of the sea. What we saw happen at a particularly high tide, the Spring Tide, amply demonstrates the way the centre is integrated with the natural environment. 

With so much glass, might birds not crash into the windows?

Welfare of wildlife is a key concern and has been taken into consideration from the earliest stages of design. The architects considered the location and height of the building in relation to the usual bird flight paths and incorporated tinted glass to minimise risk of collisions. The contractors have added tape crosses to the glass panels while the build is in progress. Based on reported experience from buildings of a similar design, we don’t anticipate any issues once the build is complete, but will be monitoring the glass closely so that extra safety measures can be put in place if needed.

Why is there a high-ceilinged corridor in the centre of the interior?

It has windcatchers on top, which create natural ventilation for the building.

How will you keep the windows clean?

They can be cleaned in the usual way, with extendable poles, the sort that are used for houses and businesses by window cleaners. You can't use the "self cleaning" glass for this building. That needs rain to actually fall on the glass, which is less likely happen at the Discovery Centre because of the roof overhang. More about the glass for the Discovery Centre here

Why have you used concrete and steel?

A building of this type and dimensions, built on a shingle substrate, needs robust foundations. The architect's advice is that this is best achieved with a concrete base supported by piles. We are seeking to make the building as environmentally sustainable as possible, with the chestnut cladding and use of natural light and ventilation. The Discovery Centre is being made using locally sourced, Sweet Chestnut cladding. The design includes photovoltaic panels covering half the roof. The building and surrounding landscaping will provide many places for wild plants and animals to live. The ventilation will be passive and the heating will utilise air sourced heat pumps.

When will the work finish?

Obviously this is dependent on what happens with COVID-19, but we still are hoping it will be ready to open by early autumn 2020. 

What’s happening to waste material? Will building materials get blown about if it’s windy?

Baxall have been removing waste material from site regularly, and they are aware of the geographical challenges of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, so will be taking great care. Material from the site will be transported to a registered waste recycling centre.

Will the village drainage system be able to cope?

The building is going to be connected to the main sewer, with a strategy that has been agreed with Southern Water. 

Is there any overnight security?

The site is covered by CCTV cameras 24/7.


There will be timelapse photography and other means of recording the build process. Any use of drones will have been approved by the Reserve Manager.

Why is the Discovery Centre being built?

In the past, we have not had adequate facilities for the large numbers of annual visitors we welcome on the reserve, including parties of schoolchildren. The same is true for staff and volunteers. The nature reserve is vast, and it needs somewhere accessible, that offers shelter in all weathers, and has facilities including toilets, all of which enable everyone to enjoy our reserve, all year round.

Once lockdown is over, and the Centre is open, won't this cause problems with traffic and parking?

Parking for the reserve will be directed to the existing car parks in Rye Harbour, Rye and Winchelsea Beach. The brown tourism signs direct people to Rye Harbour. The car park and toilets there are run by Icklesham Parish Council. There would be potential greater capacity in the car park if it was white lined. We appreciate that at peak times there are too many cars for the parking spaces available in all of Rother District and we are working with the Sussex Community Rail Partnership to promote visiting by rail on our website and in our literature.

How can we get more information?

You can sign up for e-news, follow us on Twitter @RyeHarbour_NR, follow the project on Baxall’s Twitter @Baxall_RyeHarbourDiscovery, and keep an eye on this website

The email address for Baxall for this project is

The email address for the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve staff team is

Websize RHDC Interior01 March