The owners of a historic hotel have won their battle against a council after a row erupted over the colour of the building.

Alex and Katie Clarke began their campaign to keep the 16th century inn the same colour after Rother District Council said it “adversely” affected its character.

The Clarkes had to completely refurbish The George in Rye after it was gutted by fire in 2019. The couple, who have owned the Grade II listed hotel since 2004, carefully renovated the building, which is a prominent feature of the town’s High Street, over three years.

But they were shocked when their retrospective planning application for the retention of the new brown external colour scheme was refused by the local authority.

Mr Clarke said they painted the hotel brown in 2021 because a council conservation officer suggested they paint it a different colour to its former grey-white shade.

Research was carried out by heritage paint consultant Catherine Hassall, whose report showed The George had been a range of colours in the 19th century, including the brown shade it is now.

In a statement Mr and Mrs Clarke said they were relieved after the Planning Inspectorate upheld their appeal.

“In short this means we can keep The George’s colour and not have to repaint it,” they said.

“We can now breathe a sigh of relief and we are so grateful to each and every one of you who have voiced your support and the 400 or so of you who took the time to write directly to the Inspectorate with your comments.

“We are now happily looking forward to getting on with our work in the year ahead and doing what we do best – welcoming and serving you here in The George.”

Mr Clarke said if he had been ordered to repaint the building it would have put “significant” financial pressure on the business, which employs 75 people, and disrupt High Street due to the scale of the job.

He said it could have cost in the region of £100,000.