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Annual Rentcharge

Introduction

Sovereign Harbour residential property owners are covenanted to pay an annual charge (£336 for 2023) to the Sovereign Harbour (Sea Defences) Community Interest Company, a subsidiary of the Sovereign Harbour Trust (SHT), through an ‘Estate Rentcharge’ for flood defence work and harbour and marina maintenance.

The increase this year (2023) is mostly because the element paid to the Environment Agency is Index linked to inflation. 

To help reduce costs, and to avoid a possible penalty, please pay promptly and if possible do so online via your bank or from here via a credit or debit card: http://www.sovereignharbourtrust.co.uk/rent_charge.asp On the same webpage you will find a link to some additional information from Premier Marinas about the marina charge.

Rentcharge Q and A

SHRA has produced a short Q&A document outlining the rentcharge, who does what and what the charge is for. Rentcharge QandA... 

For detail of how the rentcharge came about and further background information see our rentcharge history page.

The Rentcharge Elements

Our Rentcharge chart....   shows the various elements that make up the rentcharge.

The rentcharge consists of two main parts:

1. The Southern Water (SW) Charge. The SHT covenants with the homeowner to apply the SW Charge towards the cost of execution of the Littoral Drift obligations and of the maintenance and improvement of the beach and sea defences within the vicinity of the Harbour, and towards Harbour maintenance. This was set at £75 per property in 1988 and varies in accordance with the change in the Retail Price Index (i.e. it has steadily increased).

2. The Marina Charge. The Marina Charge is described as "all costs and expenses reasonably and properly incurred in connection with or incidental to the cleansing, repair and maintenance of the Harbour and the waterways".

3. There is a third part that not everyone pays. The Berth Charge is only applicable to owners of privately owned berths.

More information on the Marina Charge from Premier Marinas via the SHT website
http://www.sovereignharbourtrust.co.uk/downloads/The%20Marina%20Charge%20explained.pdf 

Paying the Charge

All residential properties at Sovereign Harbour pay the rentcharge (SW Charge and Marina Charge), with the exception of the first 364 homes built at Sovereign Harbour that for some technical/legal/historic reason, don’t pay the Marina Charge (they do pay the SW charge).

Although there are aspects of the change that we may dislike, we have to urge you to make the annual payment as failure to do so could have very serious consequences for you.  Delays in payment only increases the CIC's costs that are passed on to residents. 

Further action

The SHRA committee continues to the investigate the basis for the charge and how the money is spent, along with the management of the Trust and the CIC.  Our main focus in on greater transparancy.  The matter is discussed at every SHRA committee meeting.

January 2020. We wrote to the Sovereign Harbour (Sea Defences) Community Interest Company about some aspects of the charge and received a reply. Click here to read the correspondence... 

April 2020. Following our earlier letter to the Sovereign Harbour Trust CIC, we wrote again in April 2020 asking for more details of the charges and for greater engagement with the residents, including SHRA having regular meetings with the CIC board. Click here to read SHRA's letter... 

August 2020. Following a subequent exchange of emails, the CIC formally replied to our April letter on the 4 August 2020. Click here to read their reply. We have replied saying that we looked forward to seeing improved information on the SHT website and indicated that we would like to work with them on getting the arrangement for the annual rentcharge on a more transparent footing.

We have continued to press the CIC and Premier Marinas to make the charges more transparent and to show more clearly how the money we pay is actually spent.  

January 2021. Over the last few months SHRA has continued trying to get the CIC to produce transparent accounts which explain more clearly who benefits from the charge. 

February 2021. Despite appeals to local councillors and the MP who agree that the accounts should be made more transparent, this year's invoices are not a great improvement on last years.  In the February 2021 edition of our newsletter, Waterlines,  we show some of the results of work we have done to better show where the money goes (see below).

March 2021. SHRA wrote to the CIC complaining that despite our requests that the accounts should be made more transparent, this year's invoices are not much better than in previous years. We also requested some factual information e.g the number of properties who pay the charge and the number of non-payers. We offered to help the CIC improve the transparency of their invoice and the other information they supply about the rentcharge. Click here to read our letter...   The CIC replied saying they would be happy to consider any suggestions to improve the tranpacency of the annual invoices.

2022 - Further correspondance between SHRA and the CIC took place.

2022-23. Further work by SHRA on improving the transparency of the rentcharge got put to one side whilst other matters, including two large planning applications, were being dealt with.

Sovereign Harbour Trust 

The Sovereign Harbour Trust (SHT) is a company limited by guarantee, set up to preserve and protect the environment along the beach frontage in front of Sovereign Harbour.

The registered office and address for correspondence is:
Sovereign Harbour (Sea Defences) CIC
18 Hyde Gardens
Eastbourne
East Sussex
BN21 4PT
Email: sovereignharbourtrust@p-p.uk
Tel: 01323 408047

The SHT originally received the rentcharge income directly and therefore was registered with the Charity Commission. Following implementation of a decision to delegate collection of the rentcharges to a wholly owned subsidiary, Sovereign Harbour (Sea Defences) CIC, SHT applied to be removed from the register, and accordingly, now continues as a charity but without income of its own.

The Trust uses the CIC to collect the Estate Rentcharge and distributes the monies collected to the Environment Agency (EA) and to the marina operator, currently Premier Marinas who since May 2015 are owned by the Wellcome Trust.

The EA have entered a long-term Public Private Partnership (PPP/PFI) agreement with Pevensey Coastal Defence Ltd. for the flood defence work (see our Sea Defence Work page...)  The current agreement ends in 2025 and SHRA has asked to be involved from an early stage when the new arrangements are being considered.