About the Discovery Centre Project

Sussex Wildlife Trust and the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve are pleased to have received planning permission for the development of a new visitor centre at the nature reserve.

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve offered a unique experience to the 360,000 visits in 2017. It is one of the largest and most important wildlife sites in England, set in an exceptional coastal and wetland landscape and home to 4,500 varieties of plants and animals including more than 300 rare or endangered species.

We are currently working on plans to enhance the visitor experience for people who come and enjoy the nature reserve throughout the year. Our current Information Centre based at Lime Kiln Cottage is cold and damp, is vulnerable to flooding and provides no refreshment or toilet facilities for the public. Lime Kiln Cottage is therefore no longer fit for purpose and requires significant redevelopment to provide adequate facilities for visitors to the site.

The new Discovery Centre is to be constructed on precisely the same site as the existing Information Centre, directly on the principal approach most people use to access the Nature Reserve, and with the very minimum impact on the delicate surrounding ecosystem.

Our plans include:

  • A new building that is accessible to all, energy efficient and flood resistant
  • Reception and welcome area with uninterrupted views over the Reserve
  • Information and interpretation space to explain more about the wildlife you can discover around the Reserve
  • Flexible education and meeting spaces (up to 40 and 70 people respectively)
  • Café facility and viewing area - a place to sit and enjoy the stunning views
  • Public toilets, including facilities for disabled access and baby changing facilities.
  • Retail area
  • Office space for staff and volunteers
Main Elevation
Main elevation

From our consultation with visitors, local schools and colleges, businesses - and the wider community – to date, we know there is strong support for a custom-made and sustainable facility which can be a thriving hub for education, a venue for a wide range of meetings and events, and a destination attraction to bring new visitors to the area to boost the local economy.

Front view
Front view

At its heart, the new Discovery Centre will host an array of interpretation displays in an Exhibition Zone, to engage both lay visitor and expert alike in the diverse (and changing) range of stories about the landscape.

This will be supported by an Education Zone; a dedicated, yet flexible space to host school groups, launch volunteer programmes or host specialist groups keen to learn about the Reserve's diverse flora and fauna.

Approach view
Approach view
Internal Layout
Internal layout