Correspondence with potential Knowle developers

J Woodward made this Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Ms Symington,

I would like to make a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I am also making this Request under the Environmental Impact Regulations 2004 which require disclosure on the part of Local Authorities.

I would like you to make public all the correspondence made between EDDC and any developers prior to the refusal of the planning application for Knowle, Sidmouth, on 1st March 2013.

By 'developers' I mean any business concern which either approached EDDC or which was approached by EDDC with a view to developing any part of the Knowle site - should the planning application have been successful.

No doubt EDDC will claim 'commercial confidentiality' under Sections of the FOIA (the commercial interest exemption)
- and yet this Request is clearly a matter of public interest, as it concerns the development of assets which are currently publicly owned.

With reference to the following case:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/f...

I would like to quote the Information Commissioner:

“Where ... a transaction was completed some time ago, then it will be less likely that it can be argued that disclosure of the associated information would or would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any parties concerned and the public interest balance would usually lie in favour of disclosure of such information to ensure due transparency and accountability.”

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Woodward

East Devon District Council

Thank you for submitting a request for information. We will respond to your request as quickly as possible, within the 20 working day statutory deadline under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

For updates on this case, please quote your unique reference number 101000314467 .

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East Devon District Council

Mr Woodward

Thank you for your request for information. You have asked for copies of correspondence between the Council and developers prior to the refusal of the planning application for the Knowle.

Firstly, I should explain that no correspondence or discussions were initiated by the Council and no negotiations were entered into. At the time of the application we received 8 expressions of interest in the site together with 3 speculative offers.

Although the application was not approved, the Committee decision did not preclude the potential for housing development on some parts of the land and the Knowle features in the draft Local Plan as a proposed housing development site. It is therefore possible that some of the original interested parties may have a continued interest in bidding for the site and, for this reason, we feel that the identification of individual organisations, together with detail about their respective interest, remains commercially confidential.

The disclosure of this detail, at this point in a live project, would be likely to affect our ability to achieve best value from the sale of the Knowle and it is not in the public interest to allow this to happen.

We have considered your request under the Environmental Information Regulations and the detail is considered to be exempt under reg 12(5)(e)

If you feel dissatisfied with the way we have considered your request please contact our Monitoring Officer, Denise Lyon at [email address] or on 01395 516551

You may also approach the Information Commissioner for advice at www.ico.gov.uk or on 0303 123 1113.

Freedom of Information
East Devon District Council

01395 517417
www.eastdevon.gov.uk

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Dear Ms Symington,

Following your response of 19 February,

I would like to request an internal review with regard to this request:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours sincerely,

J Woodward

Denise Lyon, East Devon District Council

Dear Mr Woodward

 

I am sorry that you feel dissatisfied with the way we responded to your
request for information. You asked for copies of correspondence between
the Council and developers prior to the refusal of the planning
application for development at Knowle, Sidmouth.

 

Our response stated that we felt that the requested detail was exempt
under regulation 12(5)(e) of the Environmental Information Regulations for
the following reason:

Although the application was not approved, the Committee decision did not
preclude the potential for housing development on some parts of the land
and the Knowle features in the draft Local Plan as a proposed housing
development site. It is therefore possible that some of the original
interested parties may have a continued interest in bidding for the site
and, for this reason, we feel that the identification of individual
organisations, together with detail about their respective interest,
remains commercially confidential.

 

Your request for an internal review did not include any detail about which
specific part of our response you were in disagreement with, or why, so we
will respond in general terms.

 

Our view remains that regulation 12(5)(e) is engaged and we have
considered the public interest test in applying this qualified exemption.

 

For information to be commercial in nature, it will need to relate to a
commercial activity, either of the public authority or a third party. A
commercial activity will generally involve the sale or purchase of goods
or services. In this case the information relates to the sale of land for
development and it is our considered view that the disclosure of the
requested information, at this point in time, would be likely to prejudice
the Council’s ability to achieve the best possible value for the land for
the Council Tax paying public and that it is therefore not in the wider
public interest for this detail to be disclosed.

 

If you remain dissatisfied with our response, you may contact the
Information Commissioner for advice at [1]www.ico.gov.uk or on 0303 123
1113.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Denise Lyon

 

Deputy Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer

Contact 01395 517408

 

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References

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