Communications between VOWH and Doric Properties and Asda/ Bridehall 2010-2012

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Vale of White Horse District Council should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Vale of White Horse District Council,

Could you please provide me with copies of:
- all communications between VOWHDC and Asda/ Bridehall or their agents between 5 November 2010 and 7 December 2012.
- all communications between VOWHDC and Doric Properties or their agents between 5 November 2010 and 7 December 2012
I request that the information provided include dates and nature of communications, and the contents of such communications. I understand that this information is under Environmental Information Regulations.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Stokes

FOI Vale, Vale of White Horse District Council

Dear Mr Stokes

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request which was received by the Vale of White Horse District Council on 13th June 2015.

Please accept this email as confirmation that your request has been received and forwarded to the relevant department and that a response will be sent to you within 20 working days. The reference number for this request is 15/169.

I trust that this email is sufficient to assure you that your request is being dealt with. However, should you have any queries in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact the FOI team at [Vale of White Horse District Council request email]

Regards

FOI Team
Vale of White Horse District Council

________________________________________
From: Robert Stokes <[FOI #274092 email]>
Sent: 13 June 2015 20:41
To: FOI Vale
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Communications between VOWH and Doric Properties and Asda/ Bridehall 2010-2012

Dear Vale of White Horse District Council,

Could you please provide me with copies of:
- all communications between VOWHDC and Asda/ Bridehall or their agents between 5 November 2010 and 7 December 2012.
- all communications between VOWHDC and Doric Properties or their agents between 5 November 2010 and 7 December 2012
I request that the information provided include dates and nature of communications, and the contents of such communications. I understand that this information is under Environmental Information Regulations.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Stokes

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[FOI #274092 email]

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FOI Vale, Vale of White Horse District Council

Dear Mr Stokes,

Further to your FoI request submitted on the 13th June, in order for us to interrogate our systems we would require more specific guidelines such as property eg West Way, Abingdon Precint etc or planning application number.

Are you able to provide more information?

Kind regards,

FoI Team
Vale of White Horse District Council

________________________________________
From: Kevan Spencer-Matthews
Sent: 18 June 2015 13:38
To: FOI Vale
Subject: Re: Freedom of Information request - Communications between VOWH and Doric Properties and Asda/ Bridehall 2010-2012 (EIR 15-169)

Hi

In order for us to interrogate our systems we would require more specific guidelines such as property eg West Way, Abingdon Precint etc or planning application number .

Is it possible to find out more?

Kevan Spencer-Matthews

Resources & Development Officer
South Oxfordshire District Council
Vale of White Horse District Council

Temporary number: 01235 540360
Due to the fire at our offices the best method of contact at present is email.

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk
http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk​

________________________________________
From: FOI Vale
Sent: 15 June 2015 09:31
To: Kevan Spencer-Matthews; Sharon Evans; Building Control
Cc: FOI Vale
Subject: Fw: Freedom of Information request - Communications between VOWH and Doric Properties and Asda/ Bridehall 2010-2012 (EIR 15-169)

Dear all,

Please see the EIR that as been requested below.

Can all responses be sent back to [Vale of White Horse District Council request email] where we will then collate answers and return to the requestor.

Many Thanks,

FoI Team
Vale of White Horse District Council

________________________________________
From: Robert Stokes <[FOI #274092 email]>
Sent: 13 June 2015 20:41
To: FOI Vale
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Communications between VOWH and Doric Properties and Asda/ Bridehall 2010-2012

Dear Vale of White Horse District Council,

Could you please provide me with copies of:
- all communications between VOWHDC and Asda/ Bridehall or their agents between 5 November 2010 and 7 December 2012.
- all communications between VOWHDC and Doric Properties or their agents between 5 November 2010 and 7 December 2012
I request that the information provided include dates and nature of communications, and the contents of such communications. I understand that this information is under Environmental Information Regulations.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Stokes

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[FOI #274092 email]

Is [Vale of White Horse District Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information requests to Vale of White Horse District Council? If so, please contact us using this form:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

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[135 Move Logo]<http://www.southandvale.gov.uk>

Dear FOI Vale,
I am interested in information relating to the West Way development. I'm not sure what you mean by the question "Is it possible to find out more?" which seems as though it wasn't meant for me?

I apologise for the delay in responding as I have been away.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Stokes

Dear FOI Vale,

I am interested in information relating to the West Way development in Botley.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Stokes

FOI Vale, Vale of White Horse District Council

Dear Sir,

Firstly I would like to apologise for the delay in replying to your
request, however we are still trying to assimilate the information
required to reply.

Therefore for clarity can you please inform me what exact information you
require to satisfy the above FOI request.

If you wish to discuss this matter please feel free to call me on 01235
540393 where I would be happy to discuss your requirements

Kind Regards

Jayne Webley Smith

FOI Team.

[1]135 Move Logo

References

Visible links
1. http://www.southandvale.gov.uk/

Dear FOI Vale,

I'm surprised that you request further clarification, since your last request asked me to narrow down the area of interest, which I assumed would be enough to make information provision straightforward enough for you to provide it within the legal timescales.

I am researching issues such as the process by which Doric became the preferred developer for the West Way site and the process by which the area of interest increased from "Site A" to a larger site.

You'll appreciate that I could only narrow down my request if I knew what the information contained in the communications was, which is why I am asking for the information. If I knew what the information was I wouldn't need to ask for it.

Yours sincerely,
Robert Stokes

FOI Vale, Vale of White Horse District Council

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your response, I have spoken to the EH department ref this matter and they have stated that the response is still the same as the previous response, that no contact or talks has taken please and no further information is available.

Kind Regards

FOI Team

________________________________________
From: Robert Stokes <[FOI #274092 email]>
Sent: 13 July 2015 10:46
To: FOI Vale
Subject: Re: Ref FOI 15/169 West Way Botley

Dear FOI Vale,

I'm surprised that you request further clarification, since your last request asked me to narrow down the area of interest, which I assumed would be enough to make information provision straightforward enough for you to provide it within the legal timescales.

I am researching issues such as the process by which Doric became the preferred developer for the West Way site and the process by which the area of interest increased from "Site A" to a larger site.

You'll appreciate that I could only narrow down my request if I knew what the information contained in the communications was, which is why I am asking for the information. If I knew what the information was I wouldn't need to ask for it.

Yours sincerely,
Robert Stokes

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Dear FOI Vale,

I put in this request for information on 13 June 2015. On 3 July I responded to a request for clarification so I expected a reply within 20 working days from then. Giving you the benefit of the doubt that a later response was made on 13 July, I understand you should have responded by 11 August at the latest, as the "What Do They Know" website makes clear.

I am disappointed that you have failed to provide me any information within the timescales. I understand that you are obliged to provide information within 20 days; the only reason for extension of this time being if the information is both complex and voluminous, and you should have informed me whether that is the case by now. I feel I should bring this case to the attention of the Information Commissioner; especially as I am aware of the recent decision by the First Tier Tribunal in which the Vale is reminded that it is not possible to elect out of the provisions of the EIR.

Yours sincerely,
Robert Stokes

Dear FOI Vale,
As I wrote yesterday this information is now late, and you should have responded promptly. I would like you to confirm that the information will be provided by end of business on Friday 14 August 2015.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Stokes

FOI Vale, Vale of White Horse District Council

Dear Mr Stokes

This is to inform you that I will now commence an internal review of the council's response to your request for information.

Kind regards.

Andrew Down.

________________________________________
From: Robert Stokes <[FOI #274092 email]>
Sent: 13 August 2015 11:52
To: FOI Vale
Subject: Re: Ref FOI 15/169 West Way Botley

Dear FOI Vale,
As I wrote yesterday this information is now late, and you should have responded promptly. I would like you to confirm that the information will be provided by end of business on Friday 14 August 2015.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Stokes

show quoted sections

FOI Vale, Vale of White Horse District Council

12 Attachments

Dear Mr Stokes

Further to my previous email, I have looked into the history of your request. It is clear that the council did not provide a response within the appropriate timescale, for which I apologise.

You have asked for copies of correspondence between 5 November 2010 and 7 December 2012.

Asda / Bride Hall

A search of our email archive has revealed the documents attached (first three attachments).

Doric

As regards formal planning advice, we have located the documents attached (documents 4 to 8).

The council's email archive reveals a very large quantity of correspondence between council officers and Doric relating to the property deal, which we consider to be covered by the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. We consider that it is not reasonable for the council to provide all of the correspondence because of its volume and the need to consider any redactions necessary to maintain commercial confidentiality. Under Regulation 12(4)(b) we are therefore unable to provide a full response to the request as currently formulated.

However, we are happy to help by providing whatever more specific records might be of assistance (subject to redaction of commercial information). Rather than an exchange of email I would be very willing to discuss your request with you either in person or by telephone and I invite you to contact me (via [Vale of White Horse District Council request email] or council switchboard 01235 520202) in order to have such a discussion.

Meanwhile, as you have stated that your purpose is to understand the process by which Doric became preferred bidder and the proposed development area expanded, I have attached (documents 9 to 12) a quantity of documents reflecting the council's decision making process. A number of these documents were the subject of an information tribunal of which you may already be aware; indeed you can find further material which the council has previously released on the West Way Community Concern website at https://westwayconcern.wordpress.com/fre....

I trust the information attached is helpful. Finally, I reiterate that I would be happy to discuss your request in person.

Kind regards.

Andrew Down.

Dear FOI Vale,

Thank your for the information you have provided. It is obviously by no means complete, but I am currently digesting it with a view to requesting more specific information. In the meantime I trust you will release any further information that falls within my request as is available.

For the time being I can say that I was expecting to see the initial expressions of interest/ bids offered by Bride Hall/ Asda and Doric around March/ April 2011, and information relating to why Doric's interests expanded from the "Site A" originally marketed to "Site B" (West Way Shopping Centre) and beyond. If these can be provided soon I would be grateful, and I will be in touch relating to other more specific information shortly.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Stokes

FOI Vale, Vale of White Horse District Council

Dear Mr Stokes

Thank you for your further email. I repeat my invitation to discuss your request in person, as I think it will be easier for us to help.

Regarding your particular points, the council does not hold copies of the bids offered as the bidding process was managed by our strategic property advisers Cushman & Wakefield. The means by which the size of the development site increased are explained in the documents I have already sent you , notably attachments 9 to 12. I can also offer the following commentary, previously provided in response to an earlier request:

"In terms of responding to your request I think it may be helpful if I explain the processes the Vale Council went through leading up to the two agreements it entered into with Doric Properties (Doric) in respect of the Westway Shopping Centre (WSC).

"The original scheme that was proposed included only a small part of the WSC (part of the Co op building plus the adjoining car park) but included other land as well - Seacourt Hall and adjoining properties (Elms Parade and Grant Thornton House) owned by other parties. Following a report in November 2010 the Executive (as the decision making group of members as was then known, before becoming the Cabinet) agreed to the Vale Council entering into a joint venture sale agreement with the adjoining landowners (plus a party who had an agreement with the Baptist Church) and this document, termed a marketing co-operation agreement (MCA) was completed in February 2011. The thrust of the agreement was that the parties would jointly market the overall site with a view to achieving certain common objectives, these being a sale on the best terms subject to delivering a development within five years that complemented the existing WSC. The MCA also provided the mechanism for the distribution of receipts. It is fair to say that at that stage the parties to the MCA had in mind a food store development together with replacement community hall and Baptist Church and potentially a space for a new library also – subject to agreement with Oxfordshire County Council as Libraries authority.

"The site was subsequently marketed by the strategic property advisers working for the joint venture parties and this produced 13 firm offers from a mixture of developers and food retailers. Six bids were shortlisted and these were analysed further, including input obtained from planning officers at the Vale, and each of the parties were interviewed jointly by the agents and landowners, including representatives of the Vale Council. Having regard to the both the suitability of the schemes and the financial offer, two parties emerged as frontrunners, one of which was Doric. Negotiations went on for an extended period, initially with the other bidder but ultimately all the parties to the MCA agreed that Doric’s bid was the one that they wished to proceed with. Doric’s interest in the site and the bid they made had been fully market tested and the Vale Council’s strategic property agents approved the proposed terms that were put before the council’s Cabinet.

"The concept of a more comprehensive redevelopment was initially borne out of discussions between Doric and its professional team with the Vale Council’s planning officers. This was consistent with planning guidance in that the Vale Council core strategy (preferred options) January 2009 outlined the council’s expectations for Botley, including that there are opportunities to redevelop the shopping areas built in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. West Way shopping centre and Elms Parade were proposed as a site for comprehensive redevelopment to include a large supermarket, shops, offices and other town centre uses.

"It had originally been the intention to use some of the proceeds from the originally planned, smaller scale disposal to fund the refurbishment of the WSC however Doric produced proposals for a comprehensive development of the existing tired and poorly laid out buildings which it is believed would continue to serve the local needs but would additionally serve greater numbers of local people and widen the overall catchment producing a modern vibrant centre for Botley. In addition the poor quality community buildings could be replaced.

"Doric presented their ideas in person at cabinet briefings and the benefits of a comprehensive redevelopment were recognised by Cabinet members.

"The possibility of a comprehensive development gave rise to discussions over possible terms for a second transaction involving a conditional sale of the Vale Council’s remaining interest in the WSC. Again the Vale Council was professionally represented. The WSC produces a significant revenue income to the Vale Council and an important consideration was whether any capital receipt could be expected to at least replicate the current level of income.

"The culmination of these discussions was a report to cabinet in December 2012 where cabinet agreed that the council should use its ownership of WSC to facilitate the regeneration of Botley and approved the conditional sale of the asset to Doric.

"Following the cabinet meeting the council exchanged contacts with Doric in relation to the remaining interest in WSC (the agreement with Doric and the other parties to the MCA for the smaller site having already exchanged). Both agreements are conditional on a number of matters as is common for agreements of this type including the achievement of a satisfactory planning consent."

Kind regards.

Andrew Down.

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