Hornsey Town Hall - Development Agreement

Adrian Essex made this Freedom of Information request to Haringey 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 successful.

Dear Haringey Borough Council,
I am writing to make an open government request for all the information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
If this request is too wide or unclear, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and assist anyone making such a request. If any of this information is already in the public domain, please can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if necessary.
If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that information should not be treated as confidential if such an agreement has not been signed.
I understand that you are required to respond to my request within the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request.

Please can I have sight of the Development Agreement signed between the London Borough of Haringey and FEC (or one of its subsidiaries) . The agreement is referred to on this page http://www.haringey.gov.uk/news/secure-f... alongside the narrative:
"Haringey Council’s agreement with developers FEC, which has now been signed, [. . . ]".
The 'detailed designs for the Town Hall' also referred to are now ready to go Haringey's planning sub-committee, and it is clearly in the public interest to release the details of the development agreement, because:
- Sight of the document will help to promote transparency and the accountability of use of public funds, ensure that public money is being used effectively, and that the local authority is obtaining value for money when purchasing goods and services.
- The bulk of the financial details are already in the public domain in this document http://www.planningservices.haringey.gov... understanding the background to these figures will help the public in their assessment of the proposals
- details of the remaining dependencies and liabilities will inform the public of the context in which the planning sub-committee will be making its decision
- sight of the document may help to allay some of the doubts that over 500 objectors have expressed in relation to the planning applications HGY/2017/2220 and 2222
- The Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust (HTHCT)
(http://www.planningservices.haringey.gov...) has expressed a number of concerns over the future of the Town Hall project, including a question as to what exactly will constitute the refurbishment. Site of the development agreement will likely shed light on this question. HTHCT is packed with expertise and has co-operated closely with LBH during the procurement process and is an authoritative voice
- Crouch End's three councillors have highlighted how important this development is to Crouch End (https://crouchendlabour.wordpress.com/20...). They say:
"The development of the Hornsey Town Hall site including its full restoration is the most important intervention into the economy, architecture and community of Crouch End there will be for a very long time. In order for the proposals to command the support of the majority of residents in Crouch End and Haringey, it is essential that the issues raised above are adequately addressed." Providing sight of the development agreement should go some way to reinforcing the public's belief in the project and to address at least some of the issues identified.

Yours faithfully,

Adrian Essex

Haringey Borough Council

Dear Mr Essex

 

Freedom of Information / Environmental Information Regulations Request:
LBH/6653417

 

I acknowledge your request for information received on 28 September 2017.

 

This information request will be dealt with in accordance with the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 / Environmental Information Regulations and we
will send the response by 26 October 2017

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Feedback and Information Governance

 

Shared Service Centre | Central Team

Haringey Council 

10th Floor, Alexandra House, 10 Station Road, Wood Green, London N22 7TR

 

www.haringey.gov.uk

twitter@haringeycouncil

facebook.com/haringeycouncil

 

 

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Edgar Susan, Haringey Borough Council

 

Dear Mr Essex,

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request ref: LBH/6653417

 

Thank you for your request for information received on 28 September 2017,
in which you asked for the following information:

 

Please can I have sight of the Development Agreement signed between the
London Borough of Haringey and FEC (or one of its subsidiaries).

 

You also then go on to set out a number of reasons why this information
should be released.

 

My response is as follows:

 

I can confirm that we hold the Development Agreement you refer to.

 

Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act allows us to withhold
information if to provide it would be likely to prejudice the commercial
interests of any person and it is in the public interest to withhold the
information. We think that to disclose the Development Agreement for
Hornsey Town Hall would prejudice the commercial interests of Far East
Consortium International Ltd (FEC) as the Development Agreements sets out
all of their obligations. We do not believe it would be in the public
interest for this information to be placed in the public domain as this is
technical information that has been agreed between the council and its
legal teams and the developer and its legal teams.  In addition to this
the requested information would not address the matters you have set out
below and the council believes there is sufficient information within the
public domain to address and alleviate your concerns. This constitutes a
formal refusal to provide this information under Section 43 (2), as
required under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

Please note the council deemed it to be in the public interest for the
community use and access agreement made between the council and FEC, which
sits as part of the Development Agreement to be in the public domain and
this information has already been released. 

 

In response to your reason for releasing this information I can confirm:

 

 

-  Sight of the document will help to promote transparency and the
accountability of use of public funds, ensure that public money is being
used effectively, and that the local authority is obtaining value for
money when purchasing goods and services.

 

The Development Agreement would not confirm whether the council is
obtaining value for money.  The council would like to remind you of its
original objectives it was trying to achieve when this project was taken
out to market in 2015 and these were:

 

·         Restore Hornsey Town Hall in a way that respects its Grade II*
listed building status and safeguards its future by providing financially
sustainable spaces fit for purpose.

·         Facilitate cultural, community and other activities in the Town
Hall, provide public access to the building and make a positive
contribution to the local economy.

·         Remove the Council’s ongoing liability for the building.

·         The Town Hall square will be improved by integration into the
final scheme, retaining public use.

The procurement process was then undertaken to achieve these objectives
and in October 2016 Cabinet approved FEC as the preferred bidder and the
Cabinet paper clearly confirmed these objectives has been met.

   

 

 - The bulk of the financial details are already in the public domain in
this document
[1]http://www.planningservices.haringey.gov...
understanding the background to these figures will help the public in
their assessment of the proposals

 

The background to these figures is not included in the Development
Agreement.

 

 

- details of the remaining dependencies and liabilities will inform the
public of the context in which the planning sub-committee will be making
its decision

 

The Development Agreement does not form part of the planning documents
and therefore this is not the context within which Planning Committee
makes its decision. 

 

 

- sight of the document may help to allay some of the doubts that over 500
objectors have expressed in relation to the planning applications
HGY/2017/2220 and 2222

 

Planning objections will be addressed through the planning process and
therefore in the Planning Committee Report and at the Committee meeting.

 

 

- The Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust (HTHCT)

([2]http://www.planningservices.haringey.gov...)
has expressed a number of concerns over the future of the Town Hall
project, including a question as to what exactly will constitute the
refurbishment. Site of the development agreement will likely shed light on
this question. HTHCT is packed with expertise and has co-operated closely
with LBH during the procurement process and is an authoritative voice

 

FEC has released its cost breakdown for the town hall, which sets out the
scope of the refurbishment.  This information is not included within the
Development Agreement. 

 

 

- Crouch End's three councillors have highlighted how important this
development is to Crouch End
([3]https://crouchendlabour.wordpress.com/20...
They say:

"The development of the Hornsey Town Hall site including its full
restoration is the most important intervention into the economy,
architecture and community of Crouch End there will be for a very long
time. In order for the proposals to command the support of the majority of
residents in Crouch End and Haringey, it is essential that the issues
raised above are adequately addressed." Providing sight of the development
agreement should go some way to reinforcing the public's belief in the
project and to address at least some of the issues identified.

 

The council has released the community use and access agreement and FEC
has released its cost breakdown for the refurbishment and also announced
the arts centre operator. In addition to this all of FEC’s proposals for
the town hall and adjacent development land are in the public domain
through the planning process.  These four things should reassure the
community the community offer is strong and the developer is investing a
significant sum into refurbishing and improving the town hall and square.

 

If you are unhappy with how we have responded to your request you can ask
us to conduct an Internal Review. If so, please contact the Feedback and
Information Team as below. (Please note you should do this within two
months of receiving this response.)   

 

Feedback and Information Team

10th Floor, Alexandra House

10 Station Road

London

N22 7TR

E [4][email address]

 

You may also complain to the Information Commissioner’s office, who may be
able to help you.  However they would normally expect the local authority
to have undertaken a complaint investigation or Internal Review of the
request before they will accept the referral. 

  

You can contact the Commissioner at:

Information Commissioner

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

E [5][email address]

W [6]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Vicky Clark

Assistant Director - Economic Development and Growth

River Park House, 6th Floor, 225 High Road, N22 8HQ

 

T. 020 8489 6912

E. [email address]

 

[7]www.haringey.gov.uk

[8]twitter@haringeycouncil

[9]facebook.com/haringeycouncil

 

 

 

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References

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2. http://www.planningservices.haringey.gov...
3. https://crouchendlabour.wordpress.com/20...
4. mailto:[email address]
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6. http://www.ico.org.uk/
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8. https://twitter.com/haringeycouncil
9. https://www.facebook.com/haringeycouncil
10. mailto:[FOI #434620 email]
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12. http://www.haringey.gov.uk/news/secure-f...
13. http://www.planningservices.haringey.gov...
14. http://www.planningservices.haringey.gov...
15. https://crouchendlabour.wordpress.com/20...
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Dear Haringey Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Haringey Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Hornsey Town Hall - Development Agreement'.

You have refused my request on the grounds that to do so "would prejudice the commercial interests of Far East Consortium International Ltd (FEC) as the Development Agreements sets out all of their obligations." I believe this to be fallacious. Their obligations are their obligations and whether a third party can see them or not does not prejudice their interests. The Development Agreement is a done deal. No ongoing negotiations will be influenced by allowing sight of the document. No future negotiations will be prejudiced by allowing sight of the documents, as the unique combination of development opportunity, community use agreement and dilapidated Grade II* building is highly unlikely to occur again. I do not accept your assertion of commercial prejudice to FEC.
You also say "We do not believe it would be in the public interest for this information to be placed in the public domain as this is technical information that has been agreed between the council and its legal teams and the developer and its legal teams." It is precisely these technicalities and legalities that are relevant to the public interest. As you point out "the Development Agreements sets out all of their [FEC's] obligations." These obligations have been entered in exchange for rights over a public asset, by a public body (the London Borough of Haringey (LBH)) which is acting in the public interest. How does the fact that the Development Agreement has been agreed, or the terms in which it is couched, remove it from the public interest?
You state that it is in the public interest for the Community Use Agreement, which forms part of the Development Agreement, to be in the public domain, because sight of it is in the public interest. Surely you run the risk by releasing only part of the information in this way of causing, rather than removing, confusion.
You say that "The Development Agreement would not confirm whether the council is obtaining value for money." This contradicts your earlier statement "the Development Agreements sets out all of their [FEC's] obligations". It is these obligations which form the other side of the bargain. We know that FEC is to be granted a long lease over an important and valuable building and building plot which currently forms part of the public realm. The obligations FEC enters into in return define precisely what value the burgesses of Haringey are obtaining from this deal.
I note that you then appeal to the authority of the Cabinet Papers of October 2016. You will be aware that the key parts of these papers were considered exempt. The parts that were released into the public domain contain a series of assertions, with no supporting evidence. I have previously asked for sight of the exempt papers, which was refused, under reference LBH/5727016. It is surely a very circular and unreasonable argument to rely now for your refusal on information which you have previously refused to allow the public to see. One of your reasons for refusal for request LBH/5727016 was that no contract had been awarded. It is for sight of the contract that has now been awarded that I am now petitioning. Perhaps in the light of your reliance on the Cabinet Papers of October 2016, in this refusal you would now like to reconsider your refusal of LBH/5727016.
You say "The bulk of the financial details are already in the public domain in this document [ . . . ]" and you provide a link which no longer works. I think you mean the Economic Viability Report http://www.planningservices.haringey.gov... . This is a document which does not contain financial details but a series of estimates, produced by a third party to produce an estimate of the profit FEC might make, and to calculate the level of affordable housing which might be provided. You are wrong in your assertion " The bulk of the financial details are already in the public domain . . . ". Even if you were correct I have not asked for financial details, I have asked for sight of the Development Agreement which will set out the obligations of both FEC and LBH in respect of the disposal of Hornsey Town Hall by LBH to FEC.
You set out the objectives of the disposal process. These objectives are clear, thank you. What I now wish to see is the Development Agreement which, as you say, contains the obligations entered into by FEC, which will make clear exactly how these objectives have been achieved. I believe it is in both the public interest, and in the interest of the London Borough of Haringey, for it to be seen that these objectives have been satisfactorily achieved.
I understand very well that the Development Agreement is not part of the planning papers, I have referred to it as forming the context for the planning decision. It is understood that there will be trade offs. In return for fulfilling the obligations in the Development Agreement FEC will be forgiven compliance with some planning guidance, in whole or in part. The provision of affordable housing is an instance. It is clearly in the public interest to understand the extent of these trade-offs , and a key part of that understanding is to know what obligations FEC has entered into.
You dismiss the concerns of the Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust, and of our local councillors with reference to "four things". 1) The Community Use Agreement I have dealt with, partial information is inadequate.
2) The cost breakdown for the refurbishment is a hybrid document which also contains costs for the demolition of a large number of offices in the Town Hall and the creation a hotel. Sight of the Development Agreement will enable the public to understand which of the costs listed actually form part of the obligations within the Development Agreement.
3) An Arts Centre Operator has been announced. Sight of the Development Agreement will enable the public to understand how its interests are being served by the obligations, if any, included in the Development Agreement, as to how the Arts Centre Operator should proceed.
4) The planning application was originally said by FEC not to be necessary. The submission of a planning application has created a furore. It is in the public interest to understand how the obligations set out in the Development Agreement might or might not have compelled FEC to submit a planning application.

I do not find your arguments for refusal of my request to be convincing or compelling. I look forward to the refusal's being overturned after a thoroughgoing review.

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

Yours faithfully,

Adrian Essex

Pietikainen Sirkku, Haringey Borough Council

Dear Mr Essex,

 

Internal Review regarding Freedom of Information request reference
LBH/6653417

 

Thank you for email received on 30 October 2017.

 

Your request for an Internal Review has been logged with the reference
LBH/6754517. Please quote this reference number on any further
correspondence.

 

We will now review the response you have been sent to the above request
and I aim to let you know the outcome of our investigation by 27 November
2017. If I need longer, I will write to let you know the reason and when
you can expect a full reply.

 

If you have any questions, please let me know. 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sirkku Pietikäinen

Information Governance Officer

Shared Service Centre | Central Team

 

Haringey Council

10th Floor, Alexandra House, 10 Station Road, Wood Green, London N22 7TR

 

T. 020 8489 2552

[1][email address]

 

[2]www.haringey.gov.uk

[3]twitter@haringeycouncil

[4]facebook.com/haringeycouncil

 

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

 

 

Pietikainen Sirkku, Haringey Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Essex,

 

Please see attached the response to your FOI complaint/ Internal Review.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Regards,

 

Sirkku Pietikäinen

Information Governance Officer

Shared Service Centre | Central Team

 

Haringey Council

10th Floor, Alexandra House, 10 Station Road, Wood Green, London N22 7TR

 

T. 020 8489 2552

[1][email address]

 

[2]www.haringey.gov.uk

[3]twitter@haringeycouncil

[4]facebook.com/haringeycouncil

 

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

 

 

 

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential, may be
subject to legal privilege and are intended only for the person(s) or
organisation(s) to whom this email is addressed. Any unauthorised use,
retention, distribution, copying or disclosure is strictly prohibited. If
you have received this email in error, please notify the system
administrator at Haringey Council immediately and delete this e-mail from
your system. Although this e-mail and any attachments are believed to be
free of any virus or other defect which might affect any computer or
system into which they are received and opened, it is the responsibility
of the recipient to ensure they are virus free and no responsibility is
accepted for any loss or damage from receipt or use thereof. All
communications sent to or from external third party organisations may be
subject to recording and/or monitoring in accordance with relevant
legislation.

References

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