Not mentioned on any council or public authority or community websites, only this one, is that potential purchasers of residential Sovereign Harbour property need to know in advance that the annual flood defence and harbour charge payable by them is not levied anywhere else in Britain or Europe or the world. A much wider geographical flood zone area than just Sovereign Harbour is involved, affecting more than 17,000 homes as far as Bexhill, yet only 3,700 Sovereign Harbour residents (and subsequent owners) must pay the annual cost, nearly £260 in 2018. A recent Member of Parliament has stated publicly this is unfair and unjust. All business services including management companies and property developers are exempted. An additional covenant applies to owners of some South Harbour properties in the water feature precinct. In both cases, they are in addition to local council taxes, insurance, management fees and ground rents.
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By Keith A. Forbes and his wife Lois Ann Forbes at email@example.com Both disabled, they live in Eastbourne and write, administer and webmaster this website. Keith is a member of the UK's The Society of Authors and an activist for the elderly and disabled.
Part of Sovereign Harbour
Presently, due to the following, in terms of real value for money in overall expenditure for management fees, council taxes, Estate Rent charge, beaches concerns and more, it offers limited investment value and 4/10 in value for money. All who live here as owners or long-leaseholders incur the following. Some are distinctly unusual and likely to some unpalatable. Overall, they mean presently that Sovereign Harbour advantages are outweighed by its disadvantages.
See https://wellcome.ac.uk/About-us/. and others. It is Imposed on residents of Sovereign Harbour alone, no other of its UK harbours, by Premier Marinas, owned by The Wellcome Trust. See Estate Rent Charge. Often referred to as harbour charge). Payable only by residents who own or lease their flats or terraced or other homes in the Sovereign Harbour area. The annual estate rental charge - over £256 per household in 2018 - is in addition to management fees, council taxes, ground rents, insurances and more.
The legal mandate authorizing the charge is the "Sovereign Harbour Beaches (Sea Defences) Deed 2001."
Even even when residents are disabled, do not themselves use the harbour, do not own or operate a boat, but merely look at the harbour; and even when they cannot see the harbour at all but live on the other (beach) side of it, they still have to pay the charge. Yet visitors pay nothing to use Sovereign Harbour's promenades and beaches that cannot be classed as private because they offer many leisure opportunities to the general public. Even the beach frontages owned not by any local residents but solely by the area's property developers up to the high water mark are open to the public and are very popular with dog walkers. They include the majority who are not Sovereign Harbour residents but live either elsewhere in the Eastbourne town area or further and bring their dogs here deliberately because they know the beaches here, although within the Eastbourne Sovereign Ward town area, have none of the same restrictions or responsibilities or accountabilities to dog owners that occur on Eastbourne town beaches. Sovereign Harbour residents with properties overlooking the beaches are furious about this, especially when they see dogs fouling the beach area with no owner wanting to pick up the mess, or letting their dogs off their leashes. Some dog walkers have up to six dogs. There ought to be a legal way to either totally exclude non-resident members of the public from using these developer-owned beachfront areas for any purpose including walking, dog walking and cycling, or making all non-resident visitors to Sovereign Harbour who walk, dog walk and cycle pay a portion of the Estate Rent charge, instead of residents alone having to pay it but getting nothing back for it.
The Estate Rent Charge is a wrong that needs to be righted. The Environment Agency helped cause and is the principal beneficiary of the charge. The Environment Agency, local councils and their councillors, local community groups and current Member of Parliament Mr Stephen Lloyd have not acted to right the wrong. For over 17 years of the Estate Rent Charge, only the 3,700 or so Sovereign Harbour residents, not any businesses, have been legally required to pay it, not any of the 17,000 or so other property owners and businesses beyond Sovereign Harbour whose homes are also in the same flood zone area but have never been asked and are not legally required to pay it at all.
In Sovereign Harbour there are currently many more properties now on sale than there are buyers. Some may not have increased in value or by much since first built. Some asking prices are higher than when first built or last sold, but others are presently being offered for less than paid when first built or bought. Not generally known by newcomers or passed on to new buyers or renters is that many properties stipulate in the fine pint of their lease or purchase documents that apartments or flats cannot be sublet or rented out. Yet many are, putting their lessees or owners at risk. Frequently, when properties bought the cost of their annual council taxes are not mentioned, there is no mention that annual harbour charges (the biggest single controversial culprit) are passed on from buyer to successor buyer, annual management fees and ground rents if also applicable are not specified. Some ground rents may rise appreciably. The law of declining returns has now begun to bite and only when harbour charges - unique in all the world, nowhere else has them - are removed, lease lengths are automatically extended for appropriate properties, with some that are leasehold - such as those for 999 years - made freehold. When these and other changes described above and below are made, more properties stand a better chance of increasing in prices and becoming better investments.
So say various law firms and entities below:
This includes the Sovereign Harbour Beaches (Sea Defences) Deed 2001, if that also qualifies for repeal.
It is possible to apply to repeal an Act. See https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/acts/. Changes to Acts: Future changes to the law happen through the passing of another Act or delegated legislation. An Act can also be repealed so that its provisions no longer apply. Parliamentary committees examine UK laws and recommend the removal of out of date legislation. But this will require the cooperation and input of all estate charge/harbour charge residents, those who represent them, their local councillors, others who may be affected and Member of Parliament Stephen Lloyd.
See https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/process_of_repealing_acts and Visit the Law Commission website: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Some other Acts that have been repealed. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Repealed_United_Kingdom_Acts_of_Parliament
See Eastbourne Council Tax Wrongs Substantially higher than the national and other Eastbourne average, with the Sovereign Harbour average estimated to be Council Tax Band E costing well over £2,200 a year in 2018 for a leased Sovereign Harbour £240,000 750 square foot flat with no land or garage of its own. The Band E Council Tax for that Sovereign Harbour flat incurs the same Council Tax as a market value £350,000 to £450,000 property elsewhere in Eastbourne and 80% more than a magnificent Band H £35 million multi-roomed Band G palace or mansion in central London. Here in Sovereign Harbour, the local authorities clearly believe you should pay a premium in Council Tax for it.
In January 2018 many have increased, some by 250% as is the case with Chatsworth Strand on San Diego Way, Sovereign Harbour North, built only in 2009-2010, although it is stated the latter's massive increase is only for 2 years from 2018 and mostly for substantial buildings improvement. Communal areas and parking problems are also source of contention. All leaseholders are expected to contribute to communal areas including all garages and their maintenance, fixing and painting but some leaseholders whose leases clearly state they do not include a two-car garage or share of one for one car, with their vehicle having to park outside in an assigned parking spot, have objected, stating they should not have to pay for a service not communal to them only to those whose lease specifies that garage or part of it. Occupants of other buildings who also do not have garages assigned to them but park outside may have the same problem. This Inconsistency does not occur in buildings with and without lifts. Those with lifts pay extra, which is not contested. As those without lifts pay less surely the same should apply to those who do not have garages?
Some areas of Sovereign Harbour may no longer qualify for no increase after the normal initial period has elapsed. Ground rents thereafter can be increased by the same percentage amount as the Estate Rent/harbour charge. Actions are underway by certain individuals to persuade the government entity involved to limit and control or eliminate these, where possible.
Because developers pressed their demands to build on land deemed to be in a flood plain and there were none or insufficient objections, they were allowed to proceed. We, the freeholders or long-leaseholders now pay the price in required expensive floodplain insurance on contents of properties.
But why? It might be justified in part where some properties are deemed exclusive and private and members of the public are not allowed to pass by. But they cannot be justified in properties where, such as in Sovereign Harbour, walkways and paths are not exclusive because they allow any and all members of the public who are not Sovereign Harbour residents to cycle or stroll or walk by and on the beachside, bring their dogs. If they are allowed and dogs can leave their messes for hours or days without being picked up by owners then surely Sovereign Harbour freeholders and leaseholders should not be prevented from hanging out their laundry to dry for just a few hours.
The great majority of Sovereign Harbour North and South apartments or flats are not allowed under the terms of their leases to sublease or rent or short-term rent their properties as holiday homes. But some leaseholders in certain buildings have either ignored this or have obtained special permission to do so, as has happened at Flat 22, 16 San Diego Way, Sovereign Harbour North, being actively marketed as a holiday home.
Note the complete lack of any trees or shrubs in front of the apartment units. Not an enticement to buy or lease, quite the opposite. Keith Forbes photo.
Trees in a seaside area but sadly not in Sovereign Harbour
See Sovereign Harbour Beaches. They are not included in any of Eastbourne's beaches with the latter's' facilities, benches and dog regulations and more. Presently, Sovereign Harbour's North and South beaches, unlike all those Eastbourne beaches, have no facilities, no benches, no life-saving apparatus, no life guards. They are privately owned up to the high water mark by the properties opposite them but this is deliberately or routinely ignored by non-resident strangers. The walkway between the developments and the sea, intended for pedestrians only, are constantly abused by mostly non-resident cyclists, some of whom expect spectators to get out of their way. The beaches, land between the beaches and walkway and the walkway itself are also often abused by dog owners whose dogs often foul the area and whose owners often do not pick up and dispose of the mess. People who live in Eastbourne proper have told this author that they come here to do what they cannot do in Eastbourne, let their dogs off leashes and let them roam and poop without fear of prosecution. It completely spoils the beaches for many local residents, who have complained in vain to date. Authorities and community groups have declined to tackle the situation. In October 2017 the Eastbourne Borough Council approved new restrictions requiring dogs on leashes at all times on the walkways surrounding Sovereign Harbour but Sovereign Harbour beaches are again excluded from the Council's directive.
These beaches are legally, geographically and physically in the town of Eastbourne's Sovereign Ward area and residents pay their council and council-tax-related taxes to both Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex Borough Council. This surely should mean that the present arrangement whereby the Pevensey Bay entity that presently exclusively both controls these beaches at the behest of the Sovereign Harbour Trust and Environment Agency and gets 3,700 local residents (but no one else) to pay for the flood defences that also cover a much wider area involving more than 17,000 residents all the way to Bexhill, should be abolished, with these beaches at long last fully incorporated into Eastbourne's listing of public town beaches. While the general public continues to freely use and abuse them and this is encouraged by the beach owners they should not be considered as private beaches but should be forced by the councils authorities concerned to be be re-classified as public beaches. In the meantime, Sovereign Harbour beachfront area residents are not getting value for money for the beachfront flood defence and harbour defences they alone, nowhere else in the UK or Europe or the world, are required to pay to the Environment Agency.
Elsewhere in the UK and abroad, leaseholders of privately owned properties enjoy facilities both inside and outside. But not here. Instead of giving leaseholders alone exclusive rights to enjoy views and walks on the property's privately owned beachfront paths and beachside area in front of any beach-side property, the management companies and landlords not only allow but encourage members of the public to roam, walk and cycle on the path and land fronting the buildings. Time and time again residents of beach-front Sovereign Harbour properties are harassed and bothered by non residents using cycles on the beach-front pathway that is too narrow to be used by cyclists, other non residents wandering or walking their often unleashed dogs and not cleaning up their dog messes. In inner-harbour areas, much wider pathways have the same nuisances. Sovereign Harbour residents alone should not be paying management fees or Estate Rental charges to subsidize public - not private-to-residents - usage of all the outdoor facilities. Either the management fees and Estate Rental Charges all residents have to pay should be reduced substantially or all areas and footpaths and walkways in the Sovereign Harbour area and its beachfront should be fenced off to deny access to non residents.
Sovereign Harbour has more road traffic roundabouts that slow traffic per square mile than anywhere else in Britain or Europe or the world. Sovereign Harbour North has five roundabouts in less than a mile along the length of Pacific Avenue alone; another roundabout with four different exists to the Waterfront and Sovereign Harbour Shopping Centre stores; and more roundabouts along Atlantic Avenue and nearby. Eastbourne to the west, On Pacific Avenue, a normally clear road is now clogged with cars parked there immediately outside the new development at the north end of Sovereign Harbour. (One visitor from the USA wondered if the eight new dwellings there in four buildings comprised a new prison). More roundabouts at Polegate and beyond are maddening to visitors from the USA and elsewhere. Traffic is invariably heavy and waits can be long.
Sovereign Harbour, despite being classed by its promoters as an international destination, perhaps in view of all the above is not on the list of places to visit on the websites of the Eastbourne .Borough Council or East Sussex County Council, both of which have jurisdiction.
Photos by the authors
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Written, administered and web-mastered by
Keith A. Forbes
and Lois A Forbes at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2018. Revised: February 19, 2018