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Empty Commercial properties in RBKC

Toby Laurent Belson made this Freedom of Information request to Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

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Toby Laurent Belson

Dear Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea,

I am writing to request for the following information under the Freedom Of Information Act 2000:-

(a) addresses of empty Commercial properties that are within your area

(b) if possible, the owner(s) of those properties referred to in (a)

(c) if possible, type of use (eg. office, shop, storage facility, nursing home etc) of those properties referred to in (a)

(d) if possible, approximate date (month and year) from which it became empty, of those properties referred to in (a)

(e) if possible, rateable values of those properties referred to in (a)

Thank you in advance.

Yours faithfully,

Toby Laurent Belson

Freedom of Information: CP-ICT: RBKC, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Dear Mr. Laurent Belson

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST REF: 2016-1523

                                                                                                

I am writing to confirm that we received your information request on 12
December 2016. For your information and future communications your request
has been allocated the reference number FOI2016-1523. Please quote this
reference in any future correspondence.

 

We will consider your request and respond in accordance with the
requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Our duty is to
respond promptly or at least within 20 working days.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Robin Yu

Information Governance and Management Officer

Shared ICT Service

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX

Tel: 020 7938 8226

 

Email: [1][email address] | Website: [2]http://www.rbkc.gov.uk

 

 

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Yu, Robin: CP-ICT: RBKC, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Dear Mr. Laurent Belson

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REF: 2016-1523

 

I am responding to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000,
which we received on 12 December 2016, for information held by the
Council. You requested:

 

I am writing to request for the following information under the Freedom Of
Information Act 2000:-

 

(a) addresses of empty Commercial properties that are within your area

 

(b) if possible, the owner(s) of those properties referred to in (a)

 

(c) if possible, type of use (eg. office, shop, storage facility, nursing
home etc) of those properties referred to in (a)

 

(d) if possible, approximate date (month and year) from which it became
empty, of those properties referred to in (a)

 

(e) if possible, rateable values of those properties referred to in (a)

 

I confirm that we hold the information requested.

 

Please note that any information released under the Freedom of Information
Act is public information – it is not only released to the requester but
to ‘everyone’. When deciding to release information we have to consider
whether it is suitable to be released into the public domain.

 

The First Tier Tribunal ruled in Voyias v Information Commissioner and LB
Camden (Case No. EA/2011/0007) that the public interest lies in
withholding the addresses of empty properties:

 

[1]http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...

 

The Information Commissioners Office has decided that this applies to the
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea:

 

[2]https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

 

Under section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act, we are permitted
to withhold information if disclosure would, or would be likely to
prejudice the prevention and detection of crime. We believe that the
disclosure of addresses of empty properties in the borough would likely
lead to squatting and other criminal activity in and/or around these
properties.

 

If a list of empty properties were to be disclosed then these properties
would become more vulnerable to potential squatters and other criminal
acts such as theft and vandalism.

 

Section 31 is a qualified exemption so the Act requires us to consider
whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in
maintaining the exemption. We recognise that there is a significant public
interest in the disclosure of Council information in the interest of
transparency and accountability. Certainly the Council are accountable for
empty properties in the Borough and we understand that information may be
requested to help bring these properties back into use, which would be in
the financial and commercial interest of the public.

 

However, we believe that there is a strong argument in avoiding the likely
prejudice to the prevention of crime. It is in the public interest to
protect property and to avoid the considerable public expense that would
be incurred dealing with crime associated with empty properties.
Furthermore, we feel that public interest lies in preventing the distress
that is caused to victims of crime. Residents who live in close proximity
will also be affected by crime committed in the area and they will have a
reasonable expectation of feeling secure in their homes.

 

Although there is a strong public interest in bringing empty properties
back into use, our immediate concern is the protection of property and the
well being of residents. Therefore we have decided that the public
interest in avoiding prejudice to the prevention of crime outweighs the
public interest in disclosure.

 

Complaints

 

I trust this has satisfied your request. Should you be unhappy with the
handling of your request, the Council has an internal complaints process
for handling FOIA complaints. Complaints are reviewed by the Chief
Solicitor and Monitoring Officer or her nominee. A form is available from
our website to lodge your complaint
[3]http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/councilanddemocra...
Please contact us if you do not have website access and we can provide you
with a copy of the form. Following this review, should you still be
unhappy with how your information request has been handled, you have a
further right to appeal to the Information Commissioner who is responsible
for ensuring compliance with FOIA.  

 

Yours sincerely

 

Robin Yu

Information Governance and Management Officer

Shared ICT Service

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX

Tel: 020 7938 8226

mail: [4][email address] | Website: [5]http://www.rbkc.gov.uk

Mayor’s Awards

Do you know someone who is making an outstanding contribution to life in
the Royal Borough and is improving the quality of life of others?

Nominate them for a Mayor’s Award

http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/mayorsawards

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...
2. https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
3. http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/councilanddemocra...
4. mailto:[email address]
5. http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/

Toby Laurent Belson

Dear Yu, Robin: CP-ICT: RBKC,

Many Thanks for this response.

Could you please provide me with the following by way of clarification:

Full details - name, contact details - of the individuals and departments I can contact to can obtain the entirety of the information you are unable to provide (as it is a public request open to 'everyone') in a way that is specifically and privately addressed to the requester (myself) only and therefore does not "lead to squatting and other criminal activity in and/or around these properties".

Yours sincerely,

Toby Laurent Belson

Yu, Robin: CP-ICT: RBKC, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Dear Mr. Laurent Belson,

 

The Council do not release this information so there isn’t anyone you can
contact to obtain this data. As explained in my response, any information
released under the Freedom of Information Act is public information so you
cannot make a request for this information that is private to you.

 

The Business Rates department have offered to send you a list of all
commercial properties in the borough without identifying vacant
properties. This probably isn’t much use to you but please let me know if
you want access to this information.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Robin Yu

Information Governance and Management Officer

Shared ICT Service

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX

Tel: 020 7938 8226

 

Email: [email address] | Website: [1]http://www.rbkc.gov.uk

 

 

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Toby Laurent Belson

Dear Yu, Robin: CP-ICT: RBKC,

Yes, I will take that information. At least it is a start. I will have to do some investigation in finding out which are empty!

Thanks

Yours sincerely,

Toby Laurent Belson

Yu, Robin: CP-ICT: RBKC, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Dear Mr. Laurent Belson,

Thank you for your email - I've asked Business Rates for this information and I will forward this to you when received.

Yours sincerely

Robin Yu
Information Governance and Management Officer
Shared ICT Service
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
The Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX
Tel: 020 7938 8226

Email: [email address] | Website: http://www.rbkc.gov.uk

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Yu, Robin: CP-ICT: RBKC, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Laurent Belson,

 

Please find attached full list of properties. Please note that the Council
only holds information on the ratepayer and not the owner of the property.
Owner details can be established with Land Registry.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Robin Yu

Information Governance and Management Officer

Shared ICT Service

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX

Tel: 020 7938 8226

 

Email: [email address] | Website: [1]http://www.rbkc.gov.uk

 

 

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We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Toby Laurent Belson please sign in and let everyone know.