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Only on this website, not on any estate agent or council or community websites, is it revealed that purchasers/leaseholders of residential Sovereign Harbour property must pay a unique annual and increasingly expensive flood defence and harbour charge averaging £265 a year in 2018 in addition to council taxes, property insurance, management fees and ground rents. In no other flood area or harbour or marina area or private estate anywhere else in Britain, the UK, Europe or the world does this apply. A much wider flood zone area than just Sovereign Harbour is involved, affecting  more than 17,000 homes, yet the Sovereign Harbour Trust, owned by The Wellcome Trust makes only the 4,300 Sovereign Harbour residents and their successors pay it, to the Environment Agency, not businesses including managing agents and property developers. As Members of Parliament and Eastbourne Borough and East Sussex County councillors have refused to help right this wrong applicable uniquely and solely to Sovereign Harbour residents, the matter has now been referred to overseas agencies . A second unique covenant  requires owners/leaseholders of 369 South Harbour properties in the water feature precinct to pay a further annual charge of £328 in 2018. It is the only such water feature in the world that applies such a charge to properties overlooking it.

Sovereign Harbour Beaches, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England

Both are in Sovereign Ward, Eastbourne but are not counted as town beaches and do not have the same regulations

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Sovereign Harbour

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Pensioners Concerns Property Guidelines Sovereign Ward  

By Keith A. Forbes and his wife Lois Ann Forbes. 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.

Sovereign Harbour Beaches (North and South) are private, not public

It 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. 

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 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 Sovereign Harbour  and were designed for pedestrians, not cyclists.  Cyclists are allowed but pedestrians always have priority, whether in single file or double file or triple file. The walkways on the beach and harbour-side are also accessible to both wheelchair and mobility scooters. Cyclists are expected to go at slow speed, never race, always go in single file, and slow down or stop and dismount if necessary when impeded by walkers. They should never ring their cycle bells expecting pedestrians to give way to them. This goes for children too on cycles or skateboards or roller skates 

Who owns the beaches below the high water mark?

Presumably the Eastbourne Borough Council and/or East Sussex Borough Council. But who alone pays the cost of annual flood protection that would come as a possible flood from the sea at these beaches, otherwise known as the estate rent charge or by some 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. 

In merely one comparison, see West Bay, Bridport, West Dorset, at https://www.westbay.co.uk/beaches/ what it has, facilities, parking, oversight and more. There, the Environment Agency does not charge any fee to residents to do its work, unlike what ii charges for Sovereign Harbour. 

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

Martello Tower, Sovereign Harbour North beach. Photo cc Keith and Lois Forbes

North Beach fishing

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

South Beach

Not connected to the Sovereign Habour North Beach because the sea entrance to Sovereign Habour lies between.

Sovereign Harbour Martello Tower 64 (North Beach) & 66 (South Beach). There is no longer a 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 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.

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.

Keith also writes

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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  
© 2019. Revised: January 2, 2019