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Sovereign Harbour from the air

Harbour Delevopment History

This page focuces on the history of the development of Sovereign Harbour. Below you will find a timeline of events.

1990 Image

This fantastic aerial photo from about 1990 shows the Atlantic Drive area, the newly-completed retail park (Asda opened in 1989) and the area that became The Waterfront.  It also shows construction of Boston Close, and the flooded gravel pits and ponds on the Crumbles that were filled-in or adapted to create Sovereign Harbour.  With thanks to Len Smith, who posted the photo to The History of Eastbourne Facebook Group, for his permission to reproduce it here.  I have added a modern view of the area for comparison and red crosses to a matching location to aid orientation. Click thumbnail to view full size image.

Gallery of Harbour Construction Photos c 1989/1994


1967 - A harbour village incorporated into the Eastbourne urban plan.
1975 - Eastbourne Harbour Bill blocked in Parliament
1980 - A new Eastbourne Harbour Bill passed.
1980 - Harbour construction plans shelved due to rising costs.
1986 - Plans for harbour, marina, an hotel and 2,000 homes announced.
1988 - Chatsworth Trustees pull out and sell land to Tarmac and Asda.
1988 - An amended Harbour Bill passed.
1989 - Asda superstore opens.
1990 - Housing development commences west of Atlantic Drive.
1991 - Digging out of inner and outer harbours begins.
1992 - Construction of locks and lining of harbour commences.
1993 - Harbour and marina operational.
1996 - South Harbour housing development commences
1997 - Residential development and construction of North Harbour approved.
1997 - Construction of homes around West Harbour area approved.
1999 - Tarmac demerges its construction business under the name Carillion.
1999 - Construction of 'The Waterfront' commences.
2001 - Haven School opens (newspaper report).
2001 - Residential development and water feature of South Harbour approved.
2005 - B&Q plans for a superstore rejected.
2006 - 'Five Sites' residential plans rejected.
2007 - Premier Marinas acquire Sovereign Harbour Marina.
2008 - Petition for a Parish Council for Sovereign Harbour refused.
2009 - Local Liberal Democrats publish a draft MasterPlan
2009 - MP Nigel Waterson responded to the Liberal Dem's Master Plan.
2009 - Harbour Medical Centre plans approved.
2009 - Following a consultation, EBC publish LDF feedback report.
2010 - Pacific Drive adopted.
2010 - Planned residential construction ends.
2010 - Medical Centre build commences
2010 - 'The Eastbourne Plan' proposes further residential development.
2011 - Plans to improve and rename the retail park announced
2011 - Joint Statement over future development at Sovereign Harbour
2011 - Plans submitted for regeneration of the retail park.
2011 - Medical Centre opens.
2013 - Sovereign Harbour SPD ratified.
2013 - Fishing Quay application given consent.
2013 - Outline Master Plan application given consent.
2015 - Community Centre plans approved for site 5.
2015 - Pacific House opens in the Innovation Park
2016 - Site 5 declared unfit January 2016. See Waterlines issue April 2016
2016 - Revised Fishing Quay application given consent.
2016 - Reserved matters planning application for Site One given consent.
2016 - Reserved matters planning application for Site Eight given consent.
2016 - Reserved matters planning app. for Site Seven (b and c) given consent.
2017 - House building on Site 8 commences.
2017 - House building on Site 7c commences.
2017 - House building (Phase 1) on Site 1 commences.
2017 - Community Centre planning application submitted.
2017 - Building of Community Centre on Site 6 commences.
2017 - Service road for Community Centre and Innovation Park completed.
2018 - Collapse of Carillion plc
2018 - Community Centre nears completion.
2018 - The Waterfront, Sovereign Harbour Yacht Club and development sites 3, 4 & 5 acquired by Premier Marinas following collapse of Carillion. 
2018 - Site 8 Port Moresby Place completed - public open space remains unfinished
2019 - Internal fitting of the Community Centre still not finished.
2019 - Start of Fishermens Quay construction delayed.
2019 - Site 1 - White Point town houses completed.
2019 - First events held in the Community Centre.
2020 - Official opening of  the Community Centre postponed due to pandemic.
2020 - Commencement of Fishermens Quay construction
2021 - Phase 1 of Fishermens Quay completed. Quay Fisheries opens.


After twenty years, in 2009 the main construction phase of the residential element of the Sovereign Harbour development came to an end. However, the social infrastructure necessary to turn this enormous area of housing into a sustainable community had largely been ignored, and the construction of a community centre did not start until 2017.

Development of the promised business park that should have been the 'work' element of the 'work-life' environment that formed part of the original concept has also been slow, with the first offices not opening until 2015.

Since 2016 further residential development has begun to take place on three of the remaining development sites.

The Five Sites

Following the initial phases of construction, for a number of years SHRA successfully fought to prevent further development on the five remaining sites for which outline planning consent for residential development had been granted. During the campaigns, these sites were referred to generically as “The Five Sites” (Sites 1-5 in the list on this page).

As a last ditch effort before the carte blanche consent expired, developers Carillion submitted five planning applications for residential development on four of these sites. The plans were all unanimously refused by Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC) Planning Committee after a huge public demonstration of opposition. Following the refusal of these applications and following pressure by SHRA, Carillion agreed not to pursue appeals against the refusal and offered to work with residents to seek an equitable solution.

A Master Plan

Carillion then entered into discussions with SHRA, and officers and cabinet members of the then Conservative controlled EBC, on the creation of a Master Plan for the final development of all the remaining harbour development land. These negotiations continued with the Liberal Democrat administration.

Five Become Eleven

During the negotiations, other vacant sites not included in the now expired outline planning consent for residential development, were brought into the arena. For the first time, all eleven sites of remaining development land were put in the melting pot.

Since then three of the sites have been developed with housing, and one with an office block and the community centre.  Of the three housing sites, one has now been completed; one is due for compleation in 2019, and the other has been partially completed.