A multimillion pound office development for business start-ups has been welcomed as a “heaven sent opportunity” and a “game changer”.

The ‘Innovation Mall’ development in Sovereign Harbour has been awarded £6.5 million in Government funding. 

The affordable office space, off Pevensey Bay Road, aims to attract entrepreneurs and vibrant new companies bringing a huge boost to the local economy.

The business hub, expecting to support up to 300 workers, will boost confidence to create additional employment spaces in the area.

Eastbourne Borough Council leader David Tutt said: “This is going to be an absolute game changer in terms of the future of Sovereign Harbour and the development of the employment land. It will attract new, high-tech businesses that will be of benefit to the area and of East- bourne in general. I’m absolutely delighted.”

Sovereign Harbour was built some 20 years ago and is now made up of 3,000 homes.

Its original planning permission included employment space but this never materialised.

Step forward

Ian Weeks, of Sovereign Harbour Residents’ Association said: “We’ve been waiting a long time for commercial development to get started. Sovereign Harbour was originally meant to be the ultimate in sustainable development, where people could work and live in the same place.

“I don’t think we will ever get to how it was meant to be but it’s a really good step forward. It’s a heaven sent opportunity.”

Planning permission is expected to be submitted shortly with construction of the the 30,000 sq ft accommodation due early in the new year.

The £6.4m funding is loaned from the Government’s Grow- ing Place Fund via the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP).

The award follows a joint bid by East Sussex County Council and Eastbourne Borough Council, which was put together by Seachange Sussex, a not-for-profit business development company.

It is estimated the loan can be paid back within five years using rents from the office space.

Councillor David Elkin, who represents Sovereign for East Sussex County Council, said: “This very exciting project is the result of a great deal of hard work by many people within East Sussex County Council working closely with their counterparts in Eastbourne Borough Council.

“It is an excellent example of what can be achieved when the benefit to the local economy is put before party political considerations.”