Empty property above shops.

Alan Rundle made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough 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 Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please provide me with information detailing the efforts made by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council to encourage shop owners to rent empty, first-floor properties above shops.
West Kirby has many such properties.

Yours faithfully,

Alan Rundle

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Morning

 

Thank you for your recent request made under the Freedom of Information
Act.

 

Wirral Council’s Empty Property Team currently has 84 active empty
property cases for flats above business premises. Vacant property owners
are offered the following assistance to help return their dwellings to
occupation:

 

·         Empty Property Grant of up to £3000 subject to funding
availability and the property being vacant for more than 6 months in
addition to other terms and conditions.

·         The opportunity to sign an agreement with a private managing
agent who can refurbish and let the property on the owners behalf through
the Refurbishment and Rental Initiative.

·         The opportunity to sell the property to a private developer via
the developers list.

·         The opportunity to lease or sell the property a Registered
Provider.

·         The opportunity to accredit the property and market it free of
charge on the Property Pool Plus website.

 

Furthermore, the Council’s Regeneration Team are currently leading on the
roll out of Action Plans across the borough’s to help revitalise its core
retail centres. Twelve Action Plans have been completed thus far with a
further six scheduled for completion by December 2015.

 

Copies of the Action Plans and info regarding this work can be viewed via
the following link:

 

[1]http://www.wirral.gov.uk/my-services/bus...

 

The Council has facilitated a meeting with traders & businesses in West
Kirby. From the audit carried out of West Kirby Town Centre in October the
number of vacant shops in the town was running at a relatively low 6%.
This figure however includes ground floor uses only and excludes first
floor residential uses.

 

Please note that it cannot be assumed that the majority of tenants within
the shop also own the property. Experience has shown that the freehold
title for the buildings as a whole are very often in someone else’s
ownership and if landlords aren’t based locally they can be difficult for
the Council to contact.

 

I hope this information is of interest to you.

 

Kind regards,

 

Sent on behalf of

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management

Transformation and Resources

Wirral Council

 

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to
use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge.

 

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Natasha Eubank left an annotation ()

Could I ask why this request has been identified as only 'partially successful' as the Council's response seems fairly comprehensive to me?

Natasha Eubank left an annotation ()

Thanks for your reply to my query (sent directly through WDTK). As I do not wish my email address to be made known, I'll reply here:

You state:

There are hundreds (possibly thousands) of empty, first floor properties, mostly above shops, inside Wirral borough. Many have been vacant for many years. It appears that the Council does very little that is effective in returning the empty properties to being occupied.West Kirby itself has scores of empty first floor properties.
The local authority demolished more than 600 properties on the Rivers Street estate in 2000/2001.
The Wirral Partnership Homes housing stock fell from 13,100 in February 2005 to just 12,000 in August 2013.
You may be interested to read what John Pilger had to say about the Rivers Street estate.
I feel that the Wirral housing stock has been greatly mis-managed by both Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council AND by Wirral Partnership Homes (recently re-named Magenta Living).

I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with you, but the point I was trying to make was that you had been given a very comprehensive response to your query, which didn't, I feel, deserve a 'partially successful' classification which, it seems, you've given to a number of responses to your queries.

As your reply to me shows, your issue is that you don't think that WBC's response to the volume of empty properties above shops is adequate, well that's fine, however that's a completely separate issue from whether WBC responded to your FOI query fully and, in this case, you received a very comprehensive response which didn't deserve a 'partially successful' classification. Same with your other queries.

Point being, don't allow your dissatisfaction with WBC to prevent you from being objective

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please provide me with the TOTAL number of vacant properties above shops (first storey and above) and other business premises in the area of Wirral Metropolitan Borough.

Yours faithfully,

Alan Rundle

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Afternoon,

Wirral Council thanks you for your request,

"Please provide me with the TOTAL number of vacant properties above shops (first storey and above) and other business premises in the area of Wirral Metropolitan Borough'

To answer your enquiry would involve a significant piece of work because of the volume of records which would need to be inspected. Officers estimate that it would take over 18.5 hours, which is the appropriate limit allowed by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to facilitate your enquiry.

Your request is therefore refused and we have relied on section 12 (1) to refuse your enquiry. Please see more detail on this aspect of the legislation:-
‘Where an authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information because, under section 12(1) and regulations made under section 12, the cost of complying would exceed the "appropriate limit" (i.e. cost threshold) the authority should consider providing an indication of what, if any, information could be provided within the cost ceiling. The authority should also consider advising the applicant that by reforming or re-focusing their request, information may be able to be supplied for a lower, or no fee.’

To assist and advise you Wirral Council can confirm, as advised to you in your previous request, the Empty Property Team currently has 84 active cases they are dealing with. To provide the information over the timeframes specified in your email below would involve a fee. Please advise me if you would like the fee calculated?

You have the right to ask for an internal review in respect of this refusal of your request for information. This should be addressed to:
Information Manager
Legal and Member Services
Town Hall
Brighton Street
Wallasey
CH44 8ED
Or email [Wirral Borough Council request email]

If you are dissatisfied with the result of any internal review, you also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner, whose address is The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk <https://ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us>

Kind regards

Tracy O'Hare
Information Management
Transformation and Resources
Wirral Council

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may involve licensing and the application of a charge.

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Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Empty property above shops.'.

Wirral metropolitan Borough Council should keep an up-to-date and detailed record of empty properties within the borough.

Wirral metropolitan Borough Council should keep an up-to-date and detailed record of all brownfield sites.

The Council should be keeping such detailed records in order to avoid building on urban green spaces, tree protection areas and on greenbelt land.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

Yours faithfully,

Alan Rundle

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Afternoon

 

Thank you for your email.

 

It is unclear what aspect of the Council’s response you would like to be
reviewed. The Council stated that compiling this information would exceed
the 18 hours of work permitted under Section 12 of the Act. If it is this
that you would like reviewed, please let me know.

 

You state that the Council ‘should keep an up-to-date and detailed record
of empty properties within the borough/all brownfield sites’. Please see
the Information Commissioner’s website at [1]this link which states that
requesters are advised not to ‘make assumptions about how the authority
organises its information’.

 

Kind regards,

 

Sent on behalf of

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management

Transformation and Resources

Wirral Council

 

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to
use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge.

 

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Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

Please provide all the information, in the possession of the Council, concerning the numbers (or approximate numbers) of empty properties above shops, and other commercial premises, in West Kirby.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Rundle

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Morning

Thank you for your email.

As stated to you on 16th December, Wirral Council’s Empty Property Team currently has 84 active empty property cases for flats above business premises.

Kind regards,

Sent on behalf of

Tracy O'Hare
Information Management
Transformation and Resources
Wirral Council
 
This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may involve licensing and the application of a charge.

show quoted sections