Disabled sign

Sovereign Harbour North

 Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour:

Toxic Annual Estate Rentcharge Capital of the World

Annual Estate Rentcharge Disability Association E-mails Council Tax Wrongs Pensioners Concerns Property Guidelines

Written by Keith A. Forbes, a member of the UK's The Society of Authors and an activist for the elderly and disabled.  He and his wife live in the harbour.


Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour is situated 2.5 miles east of Eastbourne on the A259 Pevensey Bay Road going to Bexhill-On-Sea and Hastings and a part of Eastbourne Borough Council's Sovereign Ward (a bigger area than just Sovereign Harbour and the easternmost of Eastbourne's 12 electoral wards). It was developed by Carillion Construction Limited. It had a huge and complex national and international (Canada, etc) corporate portfolio until January 2018 when it was put into involuntary liquidation and publicly disgraced. It included being a major supplier to the UK government. It helped to maintain schools and hospitals and was also part of a consortium building the £56bn HS2 high-speed rail link. Carillion was finally involuntarily liquidated but there is still a Bermuda company by that name. 

Sovereign Harbour North scene

Photos above and below by authors Keith and Lois Forbes

Sovereign Harbour comprises an area of 330 acres developed since the 1990s to provide harbour and marina facilities for Eastbourne which previously had none. It is Northern Europe's largest composite marina complex. It is both a marina (divided into four parts) and a seafront harbour, with the harbour opening out into separate parts. The four marinas border the separate harbours. The Outer Harbour is tidal, whilst the Inner, South, North and West Harbours are entered through two high capacity locks, both manned 24 hours, 365 days a year, providing access to the sea irrespective of the state of the tide. Opened in 1993 by the late Princess Diana, it has  800 permanent berths, with some 3,000 yachts visiting each year. The Outer Harbour is tidal, whilst the Inner, South, North and West Harbours are entered through two high capacity locks, both manned 24 hours, 365 days a year, providing access to the sea irrespective of the state of the tide. All the many streets in the four residential areas have overseas names from exotic places (for example, Bermuda) around the world.  Premier Marina is no longer the independently separate company it once was. In recent years it was sold to the Blackrock UK Property Fund and became a wholly owned subsidiary, still trading (as it does today) as Premier Marinas. Later, it was sold to The Wellcome Trust and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the latter. The Wellcome Trust - a charitable foundation (except to the residents of its Sovereign Harbour to whom it charges £263.55 Annual Estate Rentcharge per house or flat as mentioned earlier), was created in 1936 by the will of Sir Henry Wellcome and its sole trustee is The Wellcome Trust Limited, a private company limited by guarantee. Premier Marinas Holdings Limited is a private company limited by shares.

In addition to its multi-harbour marinas it has the Sovereign Harbour Village Waterfront harbour-front area with its restaurants, bars and other business services, either owned or leased to other undertakings by The Wellcome Trust/Premier Marinas conglomerate.  Also included geographically in the Sovereign Harbour area but not owned by The Wellcome Trust/Premier Marinas Holdings Limited but by M&G is the adjacent Crumbles - also styled Sovereign Harbour Village - retail park shopping centre. Some of the latter's stores (for example, the supermarket ASDA) and restaurants are frequented by residents of other parts of Eastbourne and nearby including  Pevensey and Pevensey Bay, and Polegate, as far east as Bexhill-on-Sea. The regional ASDA superstore has almost 100,000 square feet. There are also branches of Boots, Frankie & Benny's restaurant, a gym, Matalan, Next, Sports Direct, T K. Maxx, Wilko and a disability-friendly sports outfit. Until mid- 2019 there was a good multi-screen Cineworld cinema much appreciated by Sovereign Harbour residents complete with plenty of free parking in the retail park but to the chagrin of all Sovereign Harbour residents it was lured away by Bermuda-incorporated Legal & General's Beacon Shopping Centre.

Also in Sovereign Harbour are the Harbour Medical Practice for NHS patients, with its GPs, nurses and support staff, built in 2014 with about 6,300 patients and, from May 2018, at long last, a publicly-provided-and-paid-for by Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council the Sovereign Harbour Community Centre. 

Sovereign Harbour vessels at North Harbour marina

Sovereign Harbour North, part of marina. Photo cc these authors Keith and Lois Forbes

In early 2020 it was revealed to these authors by Eastbourne tourism officials that The Wellcome Trust's and Premier Marinas-owned Sovereign Harbour had about 3.4 million visitors out of the 5.2 experienced by the town. Instead of charging those 3.4 million visitors a moderate admissions fee as many other Eastbourne attractions charge, visitors are given free access at all times by The Wellcome Trust and Premier Marinas. Where they recoup their costs and make money besides in in charging not those 3.4 million visitors but merely the 3,119 freehold and leasehold residents of Sovereign Harbour, as a unique 2020 Annual Estate Rentcharge of £263.55 per freehold home or leased apartment, highest in the world, irrespective of whether the property is worth £180,000 or £1.25 million. They could earn so much more money for the harbour's upkeep and to pay Sovereign Harbour's unique Environment Agency cost, only one anywhere in the world, a so-called public sector/private sector partnership once deemed a pioneer of its type - but not copied by any other UK or European or world environmental agency because it is so unfair to a single small liable group of residents only while others get it for free - by charging those 3.4 million visitors £1.00 a head instead of those 3,119 Sovereign Harbour residents alone at £263.55 per household unit. Premier Marinas owns many other harbours and marinas in the UK including in Brighton, but Sovereign Harbour is the only one, in the UK and world, with an Annual Estate Rentcharge.

Annual Estate Rentcharge explained, payable only by Sovereign Harbour residents, not those of rest of Eastbourne, Pevensey, Pevensey Bay, Bexhill, etc  

Basic Facts and figures

Not on any Eastbourne Borough Council or East Sussex County Council or most estate agents or chartered surveyors websites is it revealed that 3,119 residential freeholders and leaseholders of Sovereign Harbour property must pay a unique Annual Estate Rentcharge of £263.55 per residential unit for 2020 in addition to council taxes, property insurance, management fees and ground rents. Nor is it stated that in no other flood area or harbour or marina area or private estate anywhere else in Britain, the UK, Europe or the world is this Annual Estate Tax similarly payable. Part of it is for Environment Agency-provided flood defence. A much wider flood zone area than just Sovereign Harbour is involved, affecting more than 15,500 homes from Eastbourne to Bexhill on Sea, 8 miles east. But the Sovereign Harbour Trust and Premier Marinas, both owned by The Wellcome Trust, make only landowning or leasing Sovereign Harbour residents and their successors pay it, not neighboring communities equally affected, or businesses including managing agents and property developers. This makes Sovereign Harbour the only place in the UK, Britain and the world with both such a unique and unfair combined resident-subsidized harbour charge and Environment Agency-levied surcharge. A second unique covenant  requires owners/leaseholders of 369 South Harbour properties in the water feature precinct to pay a further annual charge of of more than £328. It is the only such water feature in the world that applies such a charge to properties adjacent to or overlooking it. Notice about this second covenant is also withheld by most estate agents from prospective buyers of relevant Sovereign Harbour South properties.

The Deed and Grant of Covenant. This is not mentioned upfront by the Eastbourne Borough Council or East Sussex County Council or estate agents. None of the latter have ever been required by these local authorities or central government to make a full disclosure of exactly what the Annual Estate Rentcharge is, what it comprises and who has to pay it, for the benefit of consumers and would-be purchasers of Sovereign Harbour property. Specimen copies of the deed with the relevant obligations are not made available in advance to potential buyers.  All that is said by same estate agents, very misleadingly, is that there is a "harbour charge". All harbours have a harbour charge but it is levied on marine craft. In the absence of information to the contrary it was assumed by many new owners that this is a normal harbour charge for all harbours in the UK, Europe and world. They were and are duped. No precise information is given in advance to let them know that there is no standard "harbour charge" as such. Instead, all purchasers of a Sovereign Harbour residential unit (property), as conditions of the sales contract, are required to sign a Deed of Grant and Covenant which obliges the purchaser to pay the Estate Rentcharge to the harbor's owners, the privately-held Wellcome Trust and its subsidiary (since May 2015) Premier Marinas. The charge is levied by the owners' private Sovereign Harbour Trust via its privately-held subsidiary Sovereign Harbour (Sea Defences) Community Interest Company. This requirement is attached to the property deeds, so the obligation passes to all subsequent owners of the property. The basis for the charge is an agreement between Southern Water and Tarmac Construction in 1988. At that time, Southern Water was responsible for coastal defences and Tarmac Construction. later Carillion, was the owner of the development land at Sovereign Harbour.

Annual Estate Rentcharge Elements

Two main parts

The Sovereign Harbour Trust (SHT) is a company limited by guarantee, set up to preserve and protect the environment along the beach frontage in front of Sovereign Harbour.  The registered office and correspondence address and those of its  Sovereign Harbour (Sea Defences) CIC is Number 22,  Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 8AS. The SHT was originally registered as a charity but, in 2010, the Trust’s charitable status was withdrawn as ‘it had never demonstrated any charitable activities’. The Trust was removed from the Charity Commission register and is now dormant. However, on its website it still shows its hold on and interest in the rentcharge. On its website the Trust publishes A Guide to the Estate Rentcharge. Following the loss of charitable status (but on the front of the website it still shows itself as a charity( in order to maintain the right to collect the rentcharge, the Trust incorporated - without any pre-warning to Sovereign Harbour residents - a wholly owned Community Interest Company (CIC) Sovereign Harbour (Sea Defences), to demand and collect and manage the administration of the income. It may be a Community Interest company as far as people who do not live in Sovereign Harbour, possibly up to 17,000 properties between Sovereign Harbour and Bexhill-on-Sea are concerned because while they live in the same flood zone they do not pay a penny for the environmental protection they get from the Environment Agency and Pevensey Coastal Defence Ltd. But there is no Community Interest benefit whatsoever for the 3,119 owners of Sovereign Harbour property who alone pay the Rentcharge (but this is omitted from any mention on the websites of the SHT, its CIC and  Pevensey Coastal Defence Ltd.). The Trust uses the CIC to collect the Estate Rentcharge and distributes the monies collected to the Environment Agency (EA) and to the marina operator, Premier Marinas. The EA entered into a long-term (25 year, expires in 2025) Public Private Partnership (PPP/PFI) agreement with Pevensey Coastal Defence Ltd. for the flood defence work. The latter contracts with a number of commercial companies to do its work. Interestingly, although it was lauded in 2001as a unique PPP/PFI, the first of its type, it has remained, not surprisingly given its cost, so unfairly, to only 3,119 owners of Sovereign Harbour residential property, no one else, the only one of its type.

Beaches (Sovereign Harbour North and South), private, not public. But the public is allowed by the landlord developers of each property to use them

Cannot be used by the disabled, too much of a slope for those with either mobility or walking problems or in a wheelchair. Nor are there any toilets or benches or railings.

North Beach fishingIt is a little known fact, that each of the five apartment developments to the east of the site bordering the beach (the North beach) and traveling north as far as Bay View Park actually own their beaches, (up to the high water mark), adjacent to and seaward of their individual developments.  Thousands of members of the public, use these beaches every year for recreational purposes; most believing that these North and South beaches are publicly owned. Many who take advantage of these beaches abuse them by littering, leaving broken glass from bottles, vandalizing signs and plants or allowing their dogs to run free, fouling the beach.  Far too many fail to pick up their dogs’ faeces. Although responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the beach, the management companies of the five developments concerned are unable to enforce any requirements with regard to anti-social behavior, such as dog fouling and litter. Residents and walkers are endangered by uncontrolled dogs and cyclists who ignore cycling restrictions (see below). In 2007 Natural England designated these beaches a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNICK). The developers (not the owners of those leasehold flats in those developments) who own the walkway in between all the beachfront buildings, because of the abuses on the beach by dogs and irresponsible dog owners and others, have now called for the beaches to be subject to the same controls and regulations as other Eastbourne beaches. Their petition is being supported by the majority of long- leasehold and other residents of those developments. But this is not nearly enough for many other residents of the flats fronting the beach. 

Photo right: Sovereign Harbour North Beach fishing. Photo cc Keith and Lois Forbes

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 3,704 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 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.

Beach, seafront brick walkways. Not nearly as wide as they are in inner Sovereign Harbour. They are for pedestrians, not cyclists of any kind, unless they are walking not riding their cycles.  The walkways on the beach and harbour-side are also accessible to both wheelchair and mobility scooters.

Who owns the beaches below the high water mark? Presumably the Eastbourne Borough Council and/or East Sussex Borough Council. So why don't they pay their part of the cost of annual flood protection that would come as a possible flood from the sea at these beaches, otherwise known as the Annual Estate Rentcharge, misleadingly referred to by estate agents as the Sovereign Harbour charge, covering a much wider area than just Sovereign Harbour? Payment is made solely, massively unfairly, only by the 2,400 or residents of Sovereign Harbour beachside and nearby buildings, not by any of the 17,000 other residents of the flood protection zone stretching all the way to Cooden Beach in Bexhill. Nowhere else in the UK or Europe or the world where there are shingle or sand or both beaches and have flood areas imposes such a charge solely on local residents. Neither beach appears on any Eastbourne town beach maps (they extend only as far as groyne number 94 the Langney roundabout, not further east). See http://www.eastbourne.gov.uk/_resources/assets/inline/full/0/209207.pdf. It may be because this beach did not exist when the last Eastbourne Borough Council beach areas were last codified, generations ago. Consequently, regulations applicable to other Eastbourne beaches and relevant to control of dog-walking, dog messes and other beach activities such as barbeques, etc. that should apply here, do not. Yet the Eastbourne Borough Council has now long included the Sovereign Ward as one of its council areas for council tax, education, voting and other purposes. It needs to now amend its beaches listing to include this Sovereign North Harbour Beach (and its neighbor the Sovereign South Harbour Beach).  Until it does so, the council has been unable to act in any of the numerous complaints about dog fouling and more from local beachside and other owner residents, many of whom in fact pay more in council taxes than in other parts of Eastbourne. 

North Beach.  A shingle beach, located to the north east of Eastbourne, at Sovereign Harbour North, mid-way between Langney Point and Pevensey Bay. From here, walkers can walk all the way to Pevensey Bay beach.  This beach is not connected to the Sovereign Habour South Beach because the sea entrance to Sovereign Habour lies between. Its principal features are Martello Tower 64 (see below), the signposted SS Barnhill Wreck Site, see http://www.eastbourneherald.co.uk/news/info-board-on-wreck-unveiled-at-harbour-1-6673014, and the spit of land at the harbour mouth from which can be seen the outer harbour of the 5-harbour Sovereign Harbour complex. 

Martello tower 64

Sovereign Harbour Martello Tower 64 (North Beach)

South Beach.  Not connected to the Sovereign Harbour North Beach because the sea entrance to Sovereign Harbour lies between. There is no longer a  Martello Tower 65, it was claimed by the sea generations ago. Unique to South east coast of England, with only two of them ever built abroad (at then-British Army posts in Barbuda, Caribbean and Bermuda, North Atlantic). Martello Tower 64 and 66 (here in South Beach) are historic monuments. The first includes both a Martello tower and a World War II gun emplacement on top of it, The tower, which is Listed Grade II, lies around 1km north east of its surviving neighbor, tower no 66. Martello tower 64 retains many of its original components. It is one (like 66) of the surviving examples of a series of low-lying towers, designed to defend a specific stretch of coastline. The addition of a gun emplacement during World War II represents the continued significance of this defensive position well into the 20th century.  Martello towers were gun towers constructed to defend the vulnerable south eastern coast of England against the threat of ship-borne invasion by Napoleonic forces. They were built as a systematic chain of defence in two phases, between 1805-1810 along the coasts of East Sussex and Kent, and between 1808- 1812 along the coasts of Essex and Suffolk. They are referred to as Martello Towers because their design was based on a fortified tower at Martello Point in Corsica which had put up a prolonged resistance to British forces in 1793. The towers take the form of compact, free-standing circular buildings on three levels built of rendered brick. The towers of the south coast were numbered 1-74 from east to west, while those of the east coast were identified by a system of letters (A-Z, and then AA-CC) from south to north. Although they exhibit a marked uniformity of design, minor variations are discernible between the southern and eastern groups and amongst individual towers, due mainly to the practice of entrusting their construction to local sub-contractors. Most southern towers are elliptical in plan, whilst the eastern group are oval or cam-shaped externally, with axes at the base ranging between 14.4m by 13.5m and 16.9m by 17.7m. All are circular internally, the battered (inwardly sloping) walls of varying thicknesses, but with the thickest section invariably facing the seaward side. Most stand to a height of around 10m. Many Martello towers are surrounded by dry moats originally encircled by counterscarp banks, and/or have cunettes (narrower water defences) situated at the foot of the tower wall. The ground floor was used for storage, with accommodation for the garrison provided on the first floor, and the main gun platform on the roof. The southern towers carried a single 24 pounder cannon, whilst the eastern line carried three guns (usually a 24 pounder cannon and two shorter guns or howitzers). Three large, circular ten- gun towers known as redoubts were also constructed at particularly vulnerable points, at Dymchurch, Eastbourne and Harwich. All three survive. As the expected Napoleonic invasion attempt did not materialize, the defensive strength of the Martello tower system was never tested, and the tower design was soon rendered obsolete by new developments in heavy artillery. Many were abandoned and fell into decay or were demolished during the 19th century, although some continued in use into the 20th century as signaling or coastguard stations and a few saw use as look out points or gun emplacements during the two World Wars. Of the original 74 towers on the south coast, 26 now survive, and of the 29 on the east coast, 17 now survive. Those which survive well and display a diversity of original components are considered to merit protection.

Books about the area and Crumbles Murders 

The area now part of the harbour was once known as the Crumbles. Books include:

Bus Times

From Sovereign Harbour North, Pacific Drive. Routes 5 (Monday to Saturday) and 5a (Sundays and Bank Holidays), to/from Eastbourne. Terminus Road, normally 24 minutes. See https://bustimes.org/services/5a-sovereign-harbour-eastbourne

Churches/Places of Worship

None in Sovereign Harbour itself but several are close by.


Citizen's Advice Bureau, Eastbourne

See http://www.eastbournecab.co.uk/ 

Columbus Point Water Feature 

 2020 cost per neighboring residential unit is over £315 per year.

Sovereign Harbour South. See waterfeature.eu/. This anchor-shaped water feature, comprising canals, cascades and fountains, is one of the largest of its type in Europe and runs much of the private residential area of Columbus Point in Sovereign Harbour South. Owners of 369 residential properties in the area are covenanted in their deeds to pay for the management, running and maintenance of the water feature. Water in the feature is dosed with chemicals to restrict algae growth, this entering the water is prohibited, should not be paddled or stepped or swum in. The annual cost to neighboring residents is not noted in any estate agent marketing. (There is an additional covenant, the Annual Estate Rental Charge, wrongly referred to as merely a Harbour Charge, £263.55 in 2020, also not noted on most estate agents property listings).

Columbus Point Water Feature

part of Columbus Point Water Feature

Community Centre

Sovereign Harbour Community Centre location

Planned new Sovereign Harbour Community Centre

Sovereign Harbour Community Centre again

Artist's impressions of planned new Sovereign Harbour Community Centre

Finally opened in November 2019.  Site 6, Easter Island Place instead of Site 5 as approved/decided in 2012, of modular construction Phone 01323 509859 to make bookings. Has a schedule of charges for entities to hold meetings. Firmly promised by local councillors in April 2018. Should have been built in 2005. Eastbourne Borough and East Sussex County Council both stated it would be completed before councils allowed any construction of new residential buildings but buildings came first by over 15 years. Changes galore resulted in the final plan being about 25% reduced in size compared to the original. The project cost over £1.6 million, with £800,000 pledged from Carillion/SHL (since liquidated in January 2018) but paid up, £400,000 from Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC) and £400,000 from the East Sussex County Council. Ownership of the facility is vested in the Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC). The  EBC appointed Sea Change Sussex, a not-for-profit economic development company, to oversee delivery of the project after the former Sovereign Harbour Community Association, once envisaged to manage the complex and the Sovereign Harbour Residents Association both declined to get involved. Managed by Wave Leisure Trust, a charitable not-for-profit trust. 

Councillors and Council Taxes

Sovereign Harbour is part of Eastbourne's Sovereign Ward. A Ward is a local electoral district.  Sovereign Ward also includes the residential areas of Langney Point and Kingsmere and homes on the south side of St. Anthony's Avenue and the Queen's Crescent area. The Sovereign Harbour area, largest part of the ward, is the largest composite marina development in the UK and the largest sheltered marina in northern Europe.

Newcomers need to know they will pay appreciably more Council Taxes than other parts of Eastbourne even though their properties may worth less in market value than homes elsewhere in Eastbourne. Many estate agents selling or leasing or renting Sovereign Harbour properties do not habitually show the Council Tax applicable to each property. Here,  council taxes are paid to not one but two local authorities, Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council (which gets the biggest share of the taxes). A councillor from each authority serves Sovereign Harbour. Council Taxes in Sovereign Harbour are on average the highest in Eastbourne, far higher even for leasehold properties with no ownership of gardens or communal gardens or garages or outbuildings than for single family freehold residences with garages and outbuildings elsewhere in Eastbourne and with a higher market value.

Sovereign Harbour beaches Cannot be used by the disabled, too much of a slope for those with either mobility or walking problems or in a wheelchair. Nor are there any toilets or benches or railings. Only Sovereign Harbour residents, including the disabled, have to pay for beach maintenance in their Annual Estate Rentcharge. But 3 million members of the general public can use the beaches for free. 

Sovereign Ward Councillors allow estate agents to omit showing key facts about Sovereign Harbour. They deliberately fail to ensure that estate agents comply fully with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 (BPRs). The government took this step to reduce duplicate legislation regulating estate agents and other businesses involved in property sales and lettings. The previous legislation, the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 (PMA), which had made it a criminal offence for estate agents to make false or misleading statements about properties being offered for sale, was repealed on1 October 2013. The CPRs prohibit all traders from using unfair commercial practices in their dealings with individual consumers, and estate agents in particular are prohibited from engaging in commercial practices that are unfair to sellers, buyers, potential sellers or potential buyers of residential property. The BPRs prohibit traders in all sectors, including estate agents, from using misleading practices in their business-to-business advertisements. This includes misleading marketing used to advertise property for sale. While the PMA only covered estate agents, the CPRs and BPRs are much wider in scope covering letting agents and property managers. The CPRs prohibit misleading actions that cause or are likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision he or she would not have taken otherwise. The CPRs prohibit misleading actions that could cause average consumers to take a transactional decision he or she or they would not take otherwise.  A transactional decision is not just whether a consumer decides to purchase a property but also includes such things as to whether to view a property in the first place. A misleading action or omission includes omitting to mention any deeds or covenants or restrictions unique to an area such as those we alone in the UK, Europe and the world have to bear here in Sovereign Harbour. We know beyond any doubt this has caused some consumers, after hearing about the facts from present residents, to neither want to view nor buy or rent or lease any Sovereign Harbour property because of the extra costs and conditions of the Estate Rent charge and other factors that nowhere else imposes. Although the CPRs and BPRs have now been in force since 2008, some are clearly still unfamiliar to many estate agents and relevant others selling or leasing or renting properties and consumers.  This prompted the Office of Fair Trading to publish guidance specifically for estate agents on the new Regulations on what they need to know in applying descriptions on a property. They have been circulated and can be seen at https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/services/estate-agents-property-descriptions. There is also know a specified Code of Practice for all residential Estate Agents and relevant others. See  https://www.tradingstandards.uk/media/documents/commercial/codes-of-practice/tpo-sales.pdf Thus, Estate agents and relevant others selling or leasing or renting properties to consumers need to be particularly careful about how they advertise properties for sale or lettings, and to make sure their particulars on properties are accurate. Describing properties as ‘stunning’, ‘desirable’ or in a ‘quiet area’ now require evidence to back up such statements. Estate agents and relevant others selling or leasing or renting properties to consumers particulars that contain misleading omissions are also liable by the new Regulations. Agents who do not wish to be in contravention of the new rules and regulations are now expected to make sure they have all their client vendors or landlords check and sign off on the accuracy of their particulars. Agents should also ensure their staff are trained on making certain their particulars and advertising are compliant with the Regulations. General disclaimers telling buyers not to rely on details are no longer valid, but are still being used by estate agents with the councils' full knowledge. Estate agents and other businesses involved in property sales and leasing or letting that breach either the CPRs or BPRs risk prosecution by their local authority trading standards services responsible for enforcement by bringing criminal prosecutions. On conviction, agents can face substantial fines or in more serious cases imprisonment.

Sovereign Harbour councillors actively assist in making Sovereign Harbour residents alone pay an Annual Estate Rent Charge, uniquely in the world. Not mentioned on any estate agents or council or public authority or any other community websites is that potential purchasers of residential Sovereign Harbour property must know in advance that the Estate Rental Charge, when mentioned at all, is referred to misleadingly as an annual flood defence and harbour charge payable by them but 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) are covenanted pay the annual cost. The previous Member of Parliament has stated publicly this is unfair and unjust. Yet all business services including management companies and property developers harbour-wide are exempted. An additional covenant, again not payable anywhere else in the world, 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. These key facts should not be omitted yet are being consistently ignored by estate agents marketing Sovereign Harbour properties.  The two councils benefit hugely from the fact that about five million visitors a year visit Eastbourne and probably more than 10% of them, at least 500,000, visit Sovereign Harbour, admire its views, swim from its two beaches, or cycle or walk along its beach and harbour walkways. In nowhere else in the world do the local authorities make residents alone pay for the facilities enjoyed by the general public.  In fact: 

The Eastbourne Borough Council has a representative on the board of the private sector Sovereign Harbour Trust and its subsidiary that levies the Annual Estate Rental Charge/harbour charge/water/flood defense charge above. Instead of formally objecting to it on behalf of their Sovereign Harbour constituents who alone have to pay the charge, and/or ensuring that others beyond Sovereign Harbour  who are also included in the flood area must pay it too instead of being exempted, our two councils both approve it and have direct representation on the facility that requires us to pay it via its Community Interest Company. This Estate Rental Charge occurs solely and uniquely within their jurisdiction. It means that both leasehold and freehold properties are thus covenanted in ways no other local authority in the UK, Europe or the world encounters. 

Sovereign Harbour Councillors are unconcerned by the fact the 2020 cost of the Annual Estate Rentcharge of £263.55 per residential unit applies, irrespective of whether a residential unit is worth £158,000 or £800,000 or more. Yet council taxes are banded in council-assessed values with the least valuable paying far less than the most valuable.

Sovereign Harbour Councillors from the Eastbourne Borough Council allow instead of prohibiting cyclists to ride on privately owned Sovereign Harbour walkways, pathways and footpaths, often dangerously in defiance of walkers, pedestrians, runners, the  elderly, vulnerable, disabled and children. Councillors should be protecting and supporting their constituents by (a) realizing that under the Equality Act cyclists should walk not ride their cycles so as not to have a speed advantage over pedestrians and the vulnerable and (b) requiring cyclists to keep to the registered cycle track shared areas of council-adopted Atlantic and Pacific Avenues. 

Sovereign Harbour in Sovereign Ward does not get the same recognition from local authorities as other parts of Eastbourne. 

The following examples highlight this:

Council Tax costs

Trees needed for Sovereign Harbour pavements & walkways

Trees on an European walkway. Photo by authors Keith and Lois Forbes. If only Sovereign Harbour had such trees on any of its walkways or pavements

trees in a seaside area but not Sovereign Harbour

Trees overseas that grace a seaside area. No trees of any kind similarly enhance the Sovereign Harbour or its seaside area.

Sovereign Harbour North 3

Sovereign Harbour North, another part of marina. Photo cc Keith and Lois Forbes

Crime Statistics for Sovereign Harbour

See https://www.police.uk/sussex/EE3NH21/crime/stats/. From Sussex Police.

Cycling restrictions 

These surely mean, but this is not enforced, no cycling anywhere except for Atlantic and Pacific Avenues in Sovereign Harbour. Only the marked cycle way pavements along Atlantic and Pacific Drives in South and North Harbours respectively, should shared with pedestrians. They are marked as shown below.

marked cycle route on left, shared with pedestrians, right


All  pathways, footways, walkways of inner and outer Sovereign Harbour without the cycle route sign shown are not cycle routes. Eastbourne Borough Council, in which Sovereign Ward councillors are a part, have made it a point to BAN cyclists along much of Eastbourne's much wider beachfront and seafront promenade. But they ALLOW cyclists to ride along the much narrower pathways and footways of beachfront and seafront Sovereign Harbour.

cyclistsOf particular concern to residents is the daily misuse by cyclists of Sovereign Harbour walkways and pathways. Every day, individual cyclists or couples on cycles and often their children on bikes go alongside each other, regularly.  Single and groups of cyclists mis-use the Sovereign Harbour North beachfront narrow footpath, going very fast or ringing their bells or shouting at walkers to get out their way, or weaving in between walkers and frightening them. When residents walking carefully and slowly have attempted to speak to and reason with them, they are often abused by cyclists, told to shut up or are sworn at. One Sovereign Harbour North Beach walkway, only nine feet wide, was built for walkers, not cyclists who often outnumber the walkers. Cyclists deliberately ignore the established and clearly cycle-marked pavements of Atlantic Drive and Pacific Drive with their wide purpose-built pavement built as a shared way for both pedestrians and cyclists. They unfairly demand and mis-use the scenic pedestrian or walking pathways and almost totally ignore the established cycle routes. 

Many Sovereign Harbour residents are slow and awkward walkers with constant balance and risk-of-falling problems on narrow walkways. They and their carers who walk alongside them because they need to be close to them for if and when they fall , need plenty of space for this. When they are forced to make way - as they all too often are - for fast or furious or groups of cyclists who refuse to make way to these walkers, serious accidents could happen and have happened, with the innocent parties requiring medical attention. 

Residents really suffer from the attitudes of many cyclists, particularly including those who are not resident but are holiday lodging at the three nearby caravan parks less than a mile away to the east. They treat this private pathway and other harbour areas not as private pathways but as public cycle routes. 

They do not pay any cycle taxes, have caused thousands of accidents with walkers, and surely, in this day and age, if they want more rights, should be taxed for the roads they use and fined for the non-cycle paths they deliberately and often contemptuously misuse  They want to be able to ride cost free from Eastbourne to Bexhill on Sea, right through Sovereign Harbour.  

The menace of Bespoke. The cycling organization Bespoke has campaigned for over 10 years to allow unrestricted cycling on Eastbourne's promenade despite an EBC bye-law that has prohibited this for good reasons, one of them being that Eastbourne has the highest concentration of elderly, vulnerable and mobility-impaired people in the entire UK and the EBC as well as police have a statutory public authority duty under the UK's Equality Act to give particular care and attention to the disabled and vulnerable, many of whom, on the flat and wide paved promenade pathway, have the space to walk accompanied by carers at their side. Bespoke has also indicated it demands similar access to Sovereign Harbour. Bespoke refuses to condemn shared areas. Nor has Bespoke ever conceded that cycling amongst pedestrians even on fast moving electric bikes is potentially unsafe, or expressed any concerns that it is dangerous to older and disabled residents.

What we hope will be of particular relevance is something not mentioned at all elsewhere to the best of our knowledge and belief. It may perhaps be deliberately omitted. It is a particularly significant and hopefully overriding fact. It is that all Sovereign Harbour walkways and pathways are on private, not public, land. So how can they possibly be considered by any Member of Parliament or parliamentary committee or Eastbourne Borough Council or East Sussex Borough Council for any public cyclist usage? Because of this they should not be compared - yet have been - to any other public areas or roads or pathways in the UK or Europe or world where cycling is permitted and encouraged by local, regional and national authorities as an active exercise.  

Sovereign Harbour Councillors from the Eastbourne Borough Council illegally - in clear defiance of the Equality Act and its provisions - allow instead of prohibiting cyclists to ride on privately owned Sovereign Harbour walkways, pathways and footpaths, often dangerously in defiance of walkers, pedestrians, runners, the  elderly, vulnerable, disabled and children. Councillors should be protecting and supporting their constituents by (a) realizing that under the Equality Act cyclists should walk not ride their cycles so as not to have a speed advantage over pedestrians and the vulnerable and (b) requiring cyclists to keep to the registered cycle track shared areas of council-adopted Atlantic and Pacific Avenues. 

Cyclists, councillors and more need to know that recently from a Guardian newspaper report - see https://www.theguardian.com/law/2020/feb/24/cyclist-settles-for-30000-pounds-after-hitting-pedestrian-who-was-looking-at-phone - that a cyclist who knocked over a woman who was looking at her mobile phone while crossing a road was then was successfully sued by the woman concerned. Both the cyclist, Robert Hazeldean, a garden designer, and the pedestrian, Gemma Brushett, who works in finance and also ran yoga retreats, were left unconscious after the rush-hour collision in July 2015. The case exposed how vulnerable uninsured cyclists are to expensive civil claims if they are involved in accidents. Brushett’s lawyers had claimed costs of £112,000 – a sum that would have left Hazeldean facing bankruptcy since he was uninsured. Hazeldean later agreed to settle the case for £30,000 on top of damages of £4,300 and his own costs of more than £25,000.  This case will be worrying for uninsured cyclists in Sovereign Harbour and the councils concerned who do not object to cyclists using and misusing the harbour's walkways and pathways. 

Eastbourne & Sovereign Harbour Disability Association (ESHDA)

Eastbourne Lifeboat RNLI

Based in Sovereign Harbour. See eastbournernli.org/. 

Estate Agents & Properties for Sale or Rent

See under "Buying a Sovereign Harbour Property - guidelines"

For Sale sign

Fisherman's Quay

Also see under Eastbourne Fishermen. 

Flood zones areas for insurance purposes

Fuel, Berth and Pump Out

In the marina.. 

 Hamilton Quay

Area to the left of photo below, with brick car parking area underneath. The most central of the harbour areas and with some of the most expensive homes.

Hamilton Quay

Hamilton Quay

Harbour Friends

Social group for Sovereign Harbour residents. Membership is £15 per annum per person. Newcomers to this area of Eastbourne may find it useful. Meets every Wednesday evening usually from 7:30 pm at the Sovereign Harbour Yacht Club.  Many members tend to sit at the same tables.

Harbour Marina

See premiermarinas.com/uk.

Harbour Medical Practice

1 Pacific Avenue, Sovereign Harbour North, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN23 6DW. See https://www.harbourmedicalpractice.co.uk. Also see structure and purpose of its Patient Participation Group (PPG) at https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2016/09/ppg-introduction.pdf. And for the latest version of its PPG's Newsletter see below:

 Has about 7,500 NHS patients in and beyond Sovereign Harbour North and South. In 2018 according to a BBC report, the National Health Service has given the practice £161 for every patient. A good practice, a first-class facility, even with frequent waits of 20 minutes or more, with doctors, nurses and support staff, in a modern building with its own spacious car park and 2 disabled access bays immediately in front of the building. Patients requiring hospitalization are sent locally to Eastbourne General Hospital or Conquest Hospital in St. Leonard's in Hastings, or, depending on their condition, to Royal Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead or Guys Hospital in London.

Harbour Police

See sussex.police.uk/eastbourne/sovereign-harbour. 

Harbour Quay

BN23 5QG - one of the many area residential postcodes. The most common council tax band is E. Estimated residential property values, based on historical transactions and adjusted for inflation, range from £311,346 to £1,078,437 with an average of £454,758. Housing types are typically flats/apartments. 78% of house sales since 1995 have been new builds.

Heffle Golf Society

See hefflegolf.com. Sovereign Harbour-based organization for golfers. 

Part of Sovereign Harbour at dusk. Photo cc these authors, Keith and Lois Forbes

Pacific House

Pacific House

Live Weather and Tide Information

See premiermarinas.com/Tides-Weather-Forecast/Eastbourne-Weather. 

Locks & Procedure

see premiermarinas.com/UK-Marina-locations/Sovereign-Harbour-Marina-Eastbourne/Getting-to-Eastbourne-Marina/Locking-Procedure. Open 24 hours a day at specific or pre-ordered times, with a signal showing green or red. All vessels need  to pass through a lock to get to or from the sea. At the lock entrance, when closed to marine traffic a narrow iron pedestrian bridge allows pedestrians to walk from North to South Harbours and beyond. When open to marine traffic the bridge is closed to pedestrians.

Sovereign Harbour Lock

In the photo, the lock is empty but in spring, summer and autumn it is often full of yachts and motor boats, with curious onlookers on either side.

Member of Parliament

Caroline Ansell, since December 12, 2019, Conservative. Phone 01323 734940. Email caroline@carolineansell.co.uk Website carolineansell.co.uk. If you try to reach her by email you may or will get this message.  "As I’m sure you will understand I receive a large number of emails, letters and phone calls each day and I will try to reply to you as quickly as possible. If you are one of my constituents, please ensure you have included your full name and address. If you haven’t, please resend your email with this information. Please note that Parliamentary rules prevent an MP dealing with enquiries from another MP’s constituents. Please note that if you copy me in to an email, its contents will be noted but no further action will be taken unless it is part of a piece of ongoing casework."

Neighborhood Panel

 See eastbournenp.org/21SovereignHarbour/21_about.html.

Pacific House

Innovation Park, Sovereign Harbour. A 2,300 metre office block at the entrance to Pacific Drive, North Harbour. Can accommodate up to 70 small to medium business entities, or fewer larger ones. With its own spacious parking area. Of all the available office spaces in Eastbourne and nearby, this is the most expensive by far, as revealed in November 2019.

Parking for residents

Car blocking an ambulance

Cars at 16 San Diego Way, North Harbour, on 30 July 2017 obstructing an ambulance and other emergency vehicles from departing

One disabled parking space in Sovereign Harbour residences

Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council do not follow the example of European Union, USA and Canadian jurisdictions in requiring developers of private-area properties to have the same disability parking laws and provisions as in public or town or city areas.


Please note that residential disabled car parking spaces provided under the Disabled Car Parking Space scheme are advisory only, and have no legal standing (unlike in the USA, Europe, etc). Although able-bodied drivers are encouraged not to park within a disabled parking space, anyone can use them. Their use relies on the good will of people in the community.

Be aware that even you are disabled in accordance with the above criteria but live in a flat or terraced house in a private off-street development where there is a common driveway but no garage and have an assigned regular (not disabled) parking space not wide enough for a disabled person to access or exit safely, you may still not qualify for a disabled parking space. You should apply anyway at disabled-bay-application-form-for-email.docx but you may be told the Council cannot help because where you live is outwith the remit of the council, and may be referred instead to the managing agent or owner of the building. In which case you will find that some managing agents are more helpful than others. One might say that to allow additional door-width for a disabled person to enter or exit a car an extra parking space can be provided. That has happened at one location. But at the same location (16 San Diego Way, Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne) another disabled applicant with similarly-qualifying credentials may be told merely simply and unhelpfully that all car park spaces are assigned. The Council cannot intervene in the matter because here in the UK, unlike in the EU or Canada or USA, etc. there are no national or local authority residential or planning regulations requiring private properties to provide genuinely-disabled persons with disabled parking. Only in public areas or on public streets is this required.

Retail areas. There is plenty of limited time ( three hours, enough for most) free parking at The Crumbles retail centre and the Waterfront car parks.. At The Crumbles most of these spaces are close to shops and ASDA has to be complemented for having the largest number seen to date at any supermarket shopping centre in the UK. At  the Waterfront complex, 

Disabled Parking Spaces. 60 are available at ASDA  and 20 at the Waterfront complex. At the latter, all 20 Disabled Parking spaces, despite being on the western end, closest to restaurants, shops and services are at least 150 yards away from them.

Pevensey Bay Coastal Defence

See pevensey-bay.co.uk/sovereign-harbour.html. Includes all of Sovereign Harbour. 

Residents Leisure Card

See http://www.eastbourne.gov.uk/residents/leisure-and-events/residents-card/. Sovereign Harbour residents qualify for this Eastbourne Borough Council discount parking concession at certain local facilities beyond the harbour.

Rotary Club of Sovereign Harbour

Some local residents are members.

Royal Sovereign Lighthouse

Located five miles offshore directly opposite Sovereign Harbour. 

Sea Defences Pevensey Bay

Sovereign Harbour is part of this area. See pevensey-bay.co.uk/resources/pdf/Pevensey%20supplement.pdf 

Sovereign Harbour Art Group

Formed in September 2007 by artist and tutor Angela Clarke-Beagley. Open to beginners & experienced artists, harbour & non-harbour residents. 

Dusk over Sovereign Harbour 

Sovereign Outer Harbour at dusk 2.  Photo cc these authors, Keith and Lois Forbes

Dogs on Leashes abuses on this beach have still not addressed by the Eastbourne Borough Council. It was first mentioned in the Sovereign Harbour Residents Association's June 2007 Waterlines, see http://www.waterlines.onl/Waterlines%20Printed/waterlines025.pdf

In Sovereign Harbour, reporting  a seafront issue. It is not a straightforward but an unnecessarily complicated procedure. Instead of dealing with it as a council issue, as it does in all other Eastbourne beaches, the Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC), see http://www.eastbourne.gov.uk/residents/leisure-and-events/eastbourne-seafront/report-a-problem/report-a-seafron Thist-issue/ - states it is unable to respond to reports about Sovereign Harbour. Instead, use one of the contacts shown. This makes the EBC the only local authority not only in the whole of the UK but also in the rest of the world with a beach in the local authority's jurisdiction over which it does not regulate or have oversight or receive complaints and it is not responsible.

Sovereign Harbour Berth holders Association

For boat owners, residents and visitors, whose vessels are moored in one or more of the harbours 5 marinas.

Sovereign Harbour Bridges

There are several to cross over by foot or bike or mobility scooter only, no cars allowed. In the photo below, the main moving bridge is shown. 

Sovereign Harbour bridge

When in the raised position as in the photo, only vessels can pass underneath, to get to or from Sovereign Harbour North. All pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooters must wait before they can get to or from The Waterfront with its nice restaurants and shops and, a short distance away, The busy Crumbles retail shopping centre. The bridge opens frequently daily, by pre-arranged signal from Sovereign Harbour berth holders or visitors or the harbours' tour boat. 

Sovereign Harbour Photo Club

 See https://www.facebook.com/SHPC.UK 

Sovereign Harbour P&K Harbour (Boat) Tours

Sovereign Harbour boat tours

Sovereign Harbour boat tours

Sovereign Harbour Postal Codes

More will be posted shortly:

Sovereign Harbour Residents Association (SHRA)

Established in 2000 to give Harbour residents a strengthened and co-ordinated voice in all discussions on the management and development of Sovereign Harbour.  It states in its manifesto that it represents the interests of all, not just some harbour residents whether renting, leasing or owning. Membership, via presentation of the membership card, brings discounts from certain local businesses. The work of the SHRA is funded by a one-off, life membership subscription, presently £10, from members including everyone in their households, supplemented by commercial sponsorship of the SHRA web site and newsletter, "Waterlines. There is no SHRA committee involvement in other controversial aspect of Sovereign Harbour life such as the Sovereign Harbour beaches and cycling misuse; dog mess nuisance, lack of trees, parking problems, harbour charge; only in Planning issues. The only real benefit of membership in return for the £10 is the 10% discount offered at some Sovereign Harbour or nearby establishments when a membership card is produced. Does not allow members to have online access to monthly meetings, only to Annual General Meetings; declines to agree to link to some websites - even those of some members.

Sovereign Harbour Village Shops and Services

Also known as The Crumbles

Shopping shopping 2 

A number of other stores including a Boots, gymnasium, and one restaurant (Frankie & Benny's).

Sovereign Harbour WI

Sovereign Harbour Yacht Club

Trains and Stations


Southern Railway. Stations are Eastbourne; Hampden Park (about. 3 miles away); Polegate (Approx. 5 miles away); Pevensey & Westham (approx. 3 miles away; and) Pevensey Bay (approx. 3 miles away). Beyond Pevensey Bay are more stations going east to Bexhill and Hastings. 

Walking for Health

By Age Concern.

Waterfront Complex

Restaurants include 

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Written, administered and web-mastered by

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Keith A. Forbes and Lois A Forbes at editor@sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk  
© 2020. Revised: March 16, 2020