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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 Ward, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England

Electoral voting area but its Councillors from Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council provide far fewer services than elsewhere in UK

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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 North scene

Sovereign Harbour North Photos below cc these authors Keith and Lois Forbes

Sovereign Harbour North 3

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

Sovereign Ward

Sovereign Harbour is part of Eastbourne's Sovereign Ward and its eastern boundary is also the eastern boundary of Eastbourne. A Ward is an electoral area for Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council for collection of Council Tax purposes. It is now one of the largest Eastbourne wards. It is unique in having both a splendid harbour area, the largest composite marina development in the UK. and the largest sheltered marina in northern Europe. It also includes the residential areas of Langney Point and Kingsmere, as well as homes on the south side of St. Anthony's Avenue and the Queen's Crescent area. Although Sovereign Harbour is the most densely populated area of Eastbourne it has the fewest public open spaces. The over-development of the area has led to a severe shortage of street parking for both residents and visitors, and the failure to provide play areas has left most local children with little option but to play in residential roads.

Sovereign Ward Councillors allow estate agents to omit showing some key facts about Sovereign Harbour

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, nearly £270 in 2018. 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. 

Sovereign Ward Councillors should be ensuring 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 it at 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 not effective in preventing offences. 

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

The following examples highlight this:

Sovereign Harbour is an attractive part of Eastbourne with a splendid harbour and the largest sheltered marina in northern Europe, but.....

Sovereign Harbour is not included in any of the present or planned Tourism Accommodation areas of Eastbourne. There, they are are confined to the town or nearby on its western side, see http://planningpolicyconsult.eastbourne.gov.uk/consult.ti/TAR_SPD/viewCompoundDoc?docid=8089684&sessionid=&voteid=&partId=8090292, According to that illustration there are no present or planned facilities in Sovereign Harbour, now one of Eastbourne's major tourism and visitor attractions. All tourism accommodation and visitor attractions are listed merely in or near the much more crowded Eastbourne town area, nice for local residents perhaps but now constantly and increasingly frustrating to tourists and visitors and not at all convenient to Sovereign Harbour (especially in rush hour or busy summertime traffic when it can take over 40 minutes by car or bus to go from the Eastbourne Pier area or town hotels to Sovereign Harbour less than three miles away). There are no Sovereign Harbour hotels but there are quite a few flats that offer quality tourist accommodation. Places with similar scenic features in other parts of the world that do offer any type of tourism accommodation are given adequate mention by their jurisdictions and it should be the case here too. Another serious omission is that on the Visitors sections of websites of the EBC under "Walks" and visitor attractions, no mention is made of the very considerable attractions of Sovereign Harbour. Some local residents believe that both the Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council should be actively encouraging the building of a new 4 star hotel also offering business conference facilities and the establishment of a new Sovereign Harbour Tourism Development group. They deem it at least as important if not more so than the building of a community centre. 

Sovereign Harbour is in the Eastbourne electoral ward for Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council, but neither of its two beaches are shown as Eastbourne beaches

Listed Eastbourne beaches only go as far as groyne number 94 at Langney Point. See http://www.eastbourne.gov.uk/_resources/assets/inline/full/0/209207.pdf. The Eastbourne beach list should have long ago been extended to include these two Sovereign Ward beaches in Eastbourne. Presently, because they are not included in Eastbourne's beaches despite being in the Sovereign Ward councils area, they do not get the same level of supervision, oversight, dogs and leashes controls, usage rules and maintenance as Eastbourne beaches. No other localities in the UK with beaches in their council tax area deliberately omit beaches from their council jurisdiction.

While some residents of Sovereign Ward are not liable to pay the Estate Rent Charge, those in the Sovereign Harbour area alone are, uniquely in the world

Only the owners of the properties and their successors of the 3,700+ homes in Sovereign Harbour, no one else in Eastbourne, have to pay, annually not just once, for the Estate Rent Charge/flood defence scheme, otherwise known as the harbour charge, that surrounds the harbour and Eastbourne, under a Deed and Grant of Covenant. A condition of the sales contract obliges the purchaser of the flats or units (but not the owners of the buildings) to pay for the flood defence rent charges. Yet a failure of the flood defence scheme anywhere along this length of coast would affect as many as 17,000 homes, far more than just in Sovereign Harbour and cause them damage possibly amounting to billions of pounds. No other harbour and marina in the UK or Europe or the world or local authorities make only this local community pay for flood defences that go far beyond just this local community. These two gross inequities in how differently Sovereign Ward constituents are treated have have never been legally challenged by either of the two Councils. It is hoped the Sovereign Harbour Residents Association will refer this situation to the newly appointed (since the middle of June 2017) Environment Minister and also Members of the European Parliament, hopefully via them to the European Commission, European Court of Human Rights if also applicable to get these wrongs righted, the relevant EU and UN Environmental commissions and international media. 

The two Councils concerned should be paying the Estate Rent Charge, not the residents. 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.

The Eastbourne Borough Council has a representative on the board of the private sector Sovereign Harbour Trust that levies the 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 is Eastbourne's highest-yielding Ward for Council Taxes collection, with far fewer liabilities than other wards

Sovereign Harbour residents pay the highest council taxes in Eastbourne for mostly leasehold properties that in terms of market value are worth far less than others elsewhere in Eastbourne that are worth far more yet pay lower Council Taxes. There is not a single property in Sovereign Harbour in the A or B Council Tax category. Nor are there any schools to fund or playing fields. Sovereign Ward councillors. Nor do Sovereign Harbour beaches come under their jurisdiction. Sovereign Harbour residents pay the highest council taxes in the UK but get the fewest council-provided benefits. Neither the Eastbourne County Council nor East Sussex County Council recognize that for the Estate Rent Charge Sovereign Harbour residents alone have to pay on top of their Council Taxes they should be receiving a similarly unique category of a lower council tax applicable solely to payers of the Estate Rental Charge. Instead of being shown legally as Renters because they come under this unique Estate Rental Charge they get no discount, even when most residents are in fact not owners but long-leaseholders. 

Council Tax costs

Sovereign Harbour public roads have no council-provided tree-lined pavements

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.

The main thoroughfares of Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Avenue in particular, and all their side streets, instead of showing off the public highways, landscape and harbour to best advantage, can presently be compared to featureless and flora-deficient military bases or some residential areas immediately adjacent to prisons  In all other nice neighborhoods their councils both plant trees and roadside shrubs and pay the cost of maintaining them and these costs are included in their council taxes. This should be the case in Sovereign Harbour also. In all other worldwide locations where scenic harbours and seaside exist, their local authorities have planted tall trees and palms. Photographs showing how Sovereign Harbour compares with international harbour, marina and seaside areas in tree-lined scenes will shortly be appearing.

10 Best Trees to Plant on your Street or Sidewalk. See https://www.thoughtco.com/best-trees-to-plant-street-and-sidewalk-1343569 

The Magic of Tree-Lined Streets. See https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/6/26/the-magic-of-tree-lined-streets-1 https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/6/26/the-magic-of-tree-lined-streets-1

Plants for Coastal Areas. See https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=472 

Urban Tree Planting Opportunities. See http://www.greenblue.com/gb/green-infrastructure/urban-tree-planting-opportunities/ 

Keith also writes

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Keith A. Forbes and Lois A Forbes at editor@sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk  
© 2019. Revised: January 2, 2019