Eastbourne residents’ relief at end of ten-year water feature battle

Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. Directors Richard Moakes, Christine Allan, Sandra Cheesman and Bruno DiLieto. SUS-150730-090047001
Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. Directors Richard Moakes, Christine Allan, Sandra Cheesman and Bruno DiLieto. SUS-150730-090047001

A decade-long struggle to regenerate a troubled water feature has finally seen the Sovereign Harbour centrepiece returned to its former glory.

The anchor-shaped water feature, comprising canals, cascades and fountains, is one of the largest of its type in Europe and runs through the private residential area of Columbus Point in Sovereign Harbour South.

Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. Sandra Cheesman and Bruno DiLieto survey the scene. SUS-150730-090111001

Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. Sandra Cheesman and Bruno DiLieto survey the scene. SUS-150730-090111001

Since its official opening in 2003, the Sovereign Harbour Water Feature has suffered a chequered history.

For much of its early life the feature was an eyesore and considered by many to be a white elephant.

Operating only intermittently, it frequently broke down and suffered from leaks, poor maintenance and vandalism.

Following a campaign by the Water Feature Action Group, an Eastbourne Borough Council-commissioned survey of the feature was carried out in 2012, and developer Aria Homes Limited agreed to fund extensive renovation of the entire 310 metre-long feature.

Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. Richard Moakes, Christine Allan, Cllr Gordon Jenkins, Sandra Cheesman and Bruno DiLieto. SUS-150730-090100001

Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. Richard Moakes, Christine Allan, Cllr Gordon Jenkins, Sandra Cheesman and Bruno DiLieto. SUS-150730-090100001

The feature re-opened at the beginning of 2014 - only for two major leaks to be discovered in the water circulation pipes just nine months later.

In October 2014 Aria Homes agreed to fund further work to replace the old piping.

Work began in February and at the end of June the feature was finally declared fully operational.

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.

Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. SUS-150730-090155001

Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. SUS-150730-090155001

And now the residents who dedicated so much of their time over the last decade to restoring the feature have taken full ownership of it.

In March 2015 the ownership was handed over to the collective control of the property owners via the Columbus Point (Management Company) Limited (CPMCL), a company established specifically to manage the water feature.

The group held its first Annual General Meeting on June 26 where Richard Moakes, Christine Allan, Sandra Cheesman and Bruno DiLieto were voted in as directors.

The four expressed relief that the battle to rejuvenate the Sovereign Harbour Water Feature was finally over.

Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. SUS-150730-090133001

Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. SUS-150730-090133001

Christine said, “I’m just glad it’s over.

“I just want to draw a line under it and move on.”

Much of the last ten years has been taken up with important high-level meetings between residents and the developers - with some residents taking part via Skype from overseas, including late-night conference calls from such far-flung places as the US.

Richard said, “There’s been an awful lot of work from an awful lot of residents.

“We think we will be able to have pleasing and viable future going forward.”

Sandra Cheesman said she felt a huge sense of relief, but acknowledged the residents still had a “long way to go”.

Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. SUS-150730-090206001

Sovereign Harbour Columbus Point Water Feature, Eastbourne. SUS-150730-090206001

Bruno DiLieto said the company was considering how to manage the feature in the future and looking at ways to reduce costs and make it viable, including the possibility of using rainwater.

Eastbourne Borough Councillor Gordon Jenkins has been fighting alongside the residents for the regeneration of the feature.

He told the Herald, “To be honest I’m just delighted that we have now got to this stage where an agreement has finally been made and we can get on with the rest of our lives!

“I have been on it for four and a bit years and some of the guys here have been on it for 10 years.

“There’s a lot of history and without the hard work these and other people have put in, we would never have got here.

“We are delighted we have got to this stage and I’m pleased to have played a small part in it.”

Residents thanked the “stalwart support” of former Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Stephen Lloyd and his successor Caroline Ansell MP, Eastbourne Borough Council, Cllr Gordon Jenkins and managing agent Fell Reynolds, along with the cooperation of Aria Homes Ltd.

For more information, visit www.waterfeature.eu or contact directors@cpmcl.co.uk

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