After twenty years of construction the main residential element of the Sovereign Harbour development came to an end in 2009.

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 high-quality business park that should have been the 'work' element of the 'work-life' environment that was the objective 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.

Some History

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.

The 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.

Harbour Development & Construction - History

This page outlines the development of Sovereign Harbour. Eight undeveloped parcels of land remain.

Aerial view c1990Atlantic Drive area c1989 - this fantastic aerial photo shows the newly-completed retail park (Asda opened in 1989) and the area that became The Waterfront. It also shows 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 here to view full size...

Gallery of Sovereign Harbour Construction photos from around 1989/1993. Click here...

click for gallery


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 (aerial photo of the site c1989)
1991 - Digging out of outer harbour begins.
1992 - Construction of locks and lining of harbour commences.
1993 - Harbour and marina operational.
1996 - 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.
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 - Sovereign Harbour New Homes web site
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 - Community Center nears completion.
2019 - Community Center still not finished.