Special consumer notes to all potential newcomers to Sovereign Harbour, East Sussex. The following is not mentioned on any international or regional or local government or public authority or community websites, only this one. Consumers from other parts of the UK or Europe or North America or anywhere else who may be planning to own or lease any residential Sovereign Harbour property must be told well in advance by estate agents marketing Sovereign Harbour property that the annual flood defence and harbour charges they will have to pay for each property they buy or lease also carry huge but hitherto unrevealed additional implications and liabilities. The first is that this harbour charge - not an insurance - is not levied anywhere else in Britain or Europe or the world where there are other flood zones, harbours, marinas or beaches, not even in places with a similar littoral drift. The second is that a much wider geographical flood zone area than just Sovereign Harbour is involved, affecting 17,000 homes as far as Bexhill, yet only the 3,700 or so Sovereign Harbour residents are required to pay the cost. The third is the liability for continued payment will continue in perpetuity with all future buyers of that property. Yet all businesses including all developers and managers of Sovereign Harbour and beyond commercial properties and residential units are exempted, only residents are liable. A recent Member of Parliament has confirmed what local residents have long believed, that it is unfair and unjust to charge them only and the harbour charge should be revoked. Potential newcomers must know about this and what it costs (about £250 a year here in 2017, but nowhere else in the world demands it), in addition to local council taxes, management fees and ground rents or leases. An additional covenant applies to South Harbour residents whose properties are in the water feature precinct. They must pay an annual water feature charge, about £305 a year in 2017.
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Photos and text by Keith A. Forbes. After years abroad and both now disabled, he and his wife live in Sovereign Harbour. Keith is a member of The Society of Authors, an economic and investigative journalist and travel editor. Email him at email@example.com.
Part of Sovereign Harbour
For its history see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_Harbour. It is 2.5 miles east of Eastbourne on the A259 Pevensey Bay Road going to Bexhill-On-Sea and Hastings. Developed by Carillion. Opened in 1993 by the late Princess Diana, it has over 600 permanent berths, with some 3,000 yachts visiting each year. Premier Marinas later bought the development from Carillion. 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. All the many streets in the four residential areas have overseas names from exotic places (for example, Bermuda) around the world.
Premier Marina, which continues to manage it, see https://www.premiermarinas.com/uk-marina-locations/sovereign-harbour-marina-eastbourne, was later sold to the Blackrock UK Property Fund and most recently, on 12 May 2015 - see https://www.blackrock.com/corporate/en-gb/newsroom/press-releases/article/corporate-one/press-releases/wellcome-trust-acquires-premier-marinas-limited_GB - was sold to the Wellcome Trust health/art/life entity, see https://wellcome.ac.uk/ and https://wellcome.ac.uk/press-release/wellcome-trust-acquires-premier-marinas-limited-blackrock-uk-property-fund. Ownership of Sovereign Harbour by Premier Marinas and the Wellcome Trust means that all who own or long-lease property in Sovereign Harbour and their successors - but no one else among the 17,000 or so residents of the same flood zone area extending all the way to Bexhill, or in any other flood zone anywhere else in the UK or Europe or the world - must presently pay annually an Estate Rent Charge - see www.sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk/Estaterentcharge.htm - of the type found nowhere else on the world where there is a harbour, beaches, flood zone and littoral drift.
Premier Marinas/Wellcome Trust ownership includes the Sovereign Harbour Village harbour-front area with its restaurants, bars and other business services but not the adjacent The Crumbles shopping centre (under separate ownership) that benefits the Sovereign Harbour community, all other parts of Eastbourne and Polegate and as far east as Bexhill-on-Sea with its large branch of ASDA, a good range of high street-type shops and until early 2018 a multi-screen cinema.
Some distinctly unusual and likely to some unpalatable oddities apply to living in Sovereign Harbour that detract from its location as a nice place to live and mean its advantages are far outweighed by its disadvantages.
(Often referred to as harbour charge). Even even when they 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. Yet visitors who use the beaches, shopping and restaurant attractions pay nothing.
See our property guidelines. For months now, there have been more properties available than buyers. Some may not have increased in value or by much since first built. Yet their annual council taxes - usually not mentioned - annual harbour charges (the biggest culprit, also usually not mentioned), annual management fees (not specified) and in some cases ground rents (usually not specified) have risen 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.
Keith Forbes photo
Trees in a seaside area but not in Sovereign Harbour
See www.sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk/SHBeaches.htm Although in Eastbourne's Sovereign Ward for council tax and electoral purposes they not included in any of Eastbourne's beaches with the latter's' facilities, benches and dog regulations and more. Sovereign Harbour's North and South beaches, unlike all those Eastbourne beaches, have no facilities, no benches, no life-saving apparatus. 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 including. The walkway between the developments and the sea, intended for pedestrians only, are constantly abused by 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 group decline to tackle the situation.
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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© 2017. Revised: September 20, 2017