Harbour residents accept talks offer

A COUNCIL boss says residents of Sovereign Harbour must swallow the bitter pill of 150 houses in exchange for play areas and a community centre.

Eastbourne Borough Council leader David Tutt says a cash-strapped council cannot provide the community facilities harbour residents deserve.

He adds that if residents want their long overdue amenities they must accept further housing development over the next 17 years.

“If that’s what they want, that’s fine and as long as they understand there will be no more community facilities that’s fine.

“But there needs to be a mechanism to unlock the means to get those facilities.”

He denies accusations he has gone back on his promise to protect the already over-developed area from further residential development. He believes he has stuck to his pledge of no further housing in the harbour in the last four years.

The Sovereign Harbour Residents’ Association (SHRA) has agreed to talks with council chiefs to see if any headway can be made.

Ian Weeks, of the SHRA, said, “We were ready to go in all guns blazing but we have been offered talks. We need to explore every avenue and obviously what we’re looking for is a sustainable community in Sovereign Harbour and that does not include more houses.”

Mr Weeks added the SHRA did not speak for the whole harbour and hopes talks will lead to a public meeting where all residents will be able to speak their mind.

Cllr Tutt added, “The reality is the council don’t have money to build community facilities.

“It’s private land and no matter the history, for the developers to put some money into building the facilities they will want to get some money out of it and there is an opportunity now to do that.”

Consultation of the overall Eastbourne Plan will continue in coming weeks and the town’s development plan will be agreed sometime in the summer.

Original planning permission to develop Sovereign Harbour was given to Carillion in 1988. Loose planning guidelines and no written agreement meant Carillion was under no legal obligation to build community facilities.

Excluding the water, the harbour has 49 dwellings per hectare – Government guidelines say there should be a maximum of 50 homes per hectare. If the 150 homes are built across seven sites, the council argues housing density will decrease if areas of community facilities are included.

Government directives dictate Eastbourne must build 5,022 homes between 2006 and 2027 – 3,766 homes are yet to be built.