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Marble House House plans

Sascha Katarina made this Freedom of Information request to The English Heritage Trust

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

We're waiting for Sascha Katarina to read a recent response and update the status.

Sascha Katarina

Dear The English Heritage Trust,

This request refers to the current proposals to develop Marble Hill House and gardens in Twickenham. I request the following:

- A copy of the business plan for the proposed cafe / restaurant in the stable block

- A copy of any other business plans for the house and grounds following the proposed developments

- The budget for the costs of implementing the plans

- A copy of the application to Heritage Lottery Fund

Yours faithfully,

Sascha Katarina

Bryan, Ann,

1 Attachment

Our Reference:17/1573

 

Dear Sascha Katarina,

 

Re: Information Request – Marble Hill House

 

Thank you for your email on 2 July in which you have requested the
following information:

 

This request refers to the current proposals to develop Marble Hill House
and gardens in Twickenham. I request the following:

 

- A copy of the business plan for the proposed cafe / restaurant in the
stable block

 

- A copy of any other business plans for the house and grounds following
the proposed developments

 

- The budget for the costs of implementing the plans

 

- A copy of the application to Heritage Lottery Fund

 

Your request will be considered under the Freedom of Information Act
(2000).  We will be writing to you within the statutory 20 working day
timeframe with a response to your request.  You will be informed if this
is not possible.

 

Yours sincerely,  

 

Ann Bryan

Information Assistant

Information Management and Technology Department

Room 2/07 (am)/ G/60 (pm), The Engine House, Fire Fly Avenue, Swindon, SN2
2EH

Direct Dial : 01793 414567 (am) 01793 414797 (pm)

 

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Gibbons, Frances,

3 Attachments

REF: 17/1573

 

Dear Mr Katarina,

 

Thank you for your information request dated 2 July in which you ask for
the following information in regards to the current proposals to develop
Marble Hill House and Gardens:

 

1.    A copy of the business plan for the proposed café/ restaurant in the
stable block. (EIR)

2.    A copy of any other business plans for the house and grounds
following the proposed developments. (EIR)

3.    The budget for the costs of implementing the plans. (FOIA)

4.    A copy of the application to Heritage Lottery Fund. (EIR)

 

Your request has been processed under both the Freedom of Information Act
2000 (FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR). For
ease of reference I will respond to each part of your request in turn.

 

Parts one and two.

I can confirm that there is only one Business Plan which covers the
project as a whole. This document is exempt from disclosure under
Regulation 12(5)(e) of the EIR.

 

The exception in Regulation 12(5)(e) of the EIR is concerned with
protecting the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information
where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate
economic interest.

 

On reviewing the document in question I have concluded that it is
commercial information as it consists of market sensitive data which could
be used by competitors within the heritage tourism sector. I am also of
the view that it is reasonable to consider the information to be
confidential, and that its disclosure would adversely affect the economic
interests of the English Heritage Trust.

 

As the application of the exception in Regulation 12(5)(e) of the EIR is
subject to a public interest test it is not sufficient for me to say, for
the reasons above, that I consider the exception to be engaged. I also
have to consider whether, in all circumstances of the case, the public
interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in
disclosing the information.

 

In favour of disclosure I acknowledge that it is in the public interest
for the public to be provided with information relating to how English
Heritage operates its sites and the factors that it takes into
consideration when exploring and implementing new customer focused
initiatives. Making such information public helps to ensure the
transparency of our work. I have also considered the presumption in favour
of disclosure that is contained within the EIR.

 

In favour of maintaining the exception I have considered the importance of
ensuring that English Heritage has the ability to operate in a competitive
commercial environment, and that they are not put at a disadvantage by the
release of market sensitive information. It is important to note that any
information that is released under the EIR is considered to be in the
public domain. While I accept that transparency and accountability are
important, I believe the information contained within the Business Plan to
be market sensitive. The release of such information would highlight a
number of trends associated with current visitors to the site and would
also identify the proposed future strategies for improving not only
visitor satisfaction, but the site in general. The business plan examines
in great detail the strategies and proposals currently under consideration
by The Heritage Lottery Fund and Richmond upon Thames council for the
regeneration of Marble Hill House and Gardens. This includes the financial
breakdown and analysis of the sites current and projected financial
situation. The information collected is extremely valuable not only from a
marketing perspective, but also from a financial point of view, as the
surveys and analysis has been produced at the expense of English Heritage.
To release this information to a third party would have a detrimental
impact on the commercial interest of English Heritage.

 

Having considered the above arguments I have concluded that the public
interest is currently best served by maintaining the exception.

 

Parts three and four.

Please find attached a copy of the Heritage Lottery Fund application
submitted by English Heritage in February 2017 in regards to Marble Hill.
Information concerning costs can be found in Section 7 of the application.

 

I hope that the information I have been able to provide is helpful to you.
Details of our review procedure are attached.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Frances Gibbons

 

Senior Information Rights Officer

01793 414445

 

You may re-use the information provided (excluding logos) free of charge
in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence.
To view this licence, visit
[1]www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence

Where any third-party copyright information has been provided, you will
need to obtain permission from the copyright holder concerned. Public
authorities who are complying with their statutory duty under the EIR to
release information to an applicant are not breaching the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act 1988. Normal copyright rules do, however, still
apply and continue to protect the rights of the copyright holder once the
information is released. You may be in breach of copyright if you
reproduce or publish any documents that are subject to copyright without
permission.  

[2]Historic England Logo

We help people understand, enjoy and value the historic environment, and
protect it for the future. [3]Historic England is a public body, and we
champion everyone’s heritage, across England.

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[7]newsletter     

Help us create a list of the 100 places which tell England's remarkable
story and its impact on the world. [8]A History of England in 100 Places.

This e-mail (and any attachments) is confidential and may contain personal
views which are not the views of Historic England unless specifically
stated. If you have received it in error, please delete it from your
system and notify the sender immediately. Do not use, copy or disclose the
information in any way nor act in reliance on it. Any information sent to
Historic England may become publicly available.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...
2. http://www.historicengland.org.uk/
3. http://bit.ly/1OuxROd
4. https://www.facebook.com/HistoricEngland
5. https://twitter.com/HistoricEngland
6. https://www.instagram.com/historicengland/
7. http://bit.ly/1p49z1e
8. https://historicengland.org.uk/100places

Dear The English Heritage Trust,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of The English Heritage Trust's handling of my FOI request 'Marble House Plans".

English Heritage are declining to disclose the business plan for the cafe building at the stable block. The reasons given lack credibility. Furthermore there is considerable precedent for such information being disclosed in these circumstances. I therefore request that English Heritahe re-consider.

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

Yours faithfully,

Sascha Katarina

REF: 17/1573

Dear Mr Katarina,

Thank you for your email. I will pass your request for an Internal Review on to our Head of Legal.

Yours sincerely

Frances Gibbons

Guy, Michael,

1 Attachment

Mr Katarina

 

Thank you for your email asking for an internal review of your request for
information. As you can see this has been passed on to me.

 

I have made a start in reviewing the information and the background and
shall be in touch again with a more substantive response as soon as this
has been completed.

 

Kind regards

Michael

 

Michael Guy

Head of Legal Services for English Heritage

Governance and Legal

 

 

[1]Historic England Logo

We help people understand, enjoy and value the historic environment, and
protect it for the future. [2]Historic England is a public body, and we
champion everyone’s heritage, across England.

Follow us:  [3]Facebook  |  [4]Twitter  |  [5]Instagram     Sign up to our
[6]newsletter     

Help us create a list of the 100 places which tell England's remarkable
story and its impact on the world. [7]A History of England in 100
Places sponsored by [8]Ecclesiastical.

This e-mail (and any attachments) is confidential and may contain personal
views which are not the views of Historic England unless specifically
stated. If you have received it in error, please delete it from your
system and notify the sender immediately. Do not use, copy or disclose the
information in any way nor act in reliance on it. Any information sent to
Historic England may become publicly available.

Dear Michael,

Thank you.

As you are no doubt aware this has also been raised directly with your chief executive, and the Richmond Council planning authorities have been alerted to your position on this.

When you are considering your response, I have the following observations.

Your rejection to the request has been on the basis "commercial confidentiality". I take that as an argument that the enterprise is primarily commercial and competitive, not a public park provision where transparency should apply.

Recent case law on Freedom of Information requests is that financial information cannot be witheld on grounds of commercial confidentiality where it is in the public interest to know. Public interest is fundamental in the case of publicly owned facilities run for the public's pleasure, and proposals are likely to impact both other community catering establishments and traffic assessments.

Yours sincerely,

Sascha Katarina

Guy, Michael,

1 Attachment

Mr Katarina

Thank you for your patience in awaiting my response on this matter. The reason it has taken a little longer than usual is that there has been some additional information released to you, namely the business plan document but in a partially redacted form as attached. Finalising this process necessitated some detailed considerations, consultations with colleagues and then administrative work to prepared the document. I have explained this more fully below.

Firstly I checked how the search for information was conducted, read the correspondence from and to you in relation to it, reviewed the communications between HE staff and other parties regarding the request and reconsidered the application of any exemptions. My conclusion is that Ms Gibbons’ response to you was correct in that the exception in Regulation 12(5)(e) of the EIR, concerned with protecting the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest, was the right one to apply. The business plan does contain commercial information that it is reasonable to consider to be confidential and its disclosure would adversely affect the economic interests of the English Heritage Trust.

However in conducting this review, as Ms Gibbons did herself, I have applied the public interest test and I was keen to check if the exemption applied to every part of the document. I also took into account the comments you have made which I refer to below and the passage of time. It was agreed with colleagues that there were some parts which could now be disclosed as the balance of public interest lay in releasing them and to only withhold what could still not be made available due to the on-going commercial sensitivities.

Regarding your additional comments in the email below, I would like to reply to them to clarify the position. Public bodies and charities do have an obligation to act in the interests of the wider public of course but this does not mean that all their activity should be completely open and transparent nor that the exemptions in the Environmental Information Regulations or the Freedom of Information Act do not apply to them. On the contrary often when fulfilling their charitable or public purpose part of that role can be commercial in nature, to raise funds to further their important work for example, and the rules are very clear that exemptions to the release of information in relation to that can apply.

This is not in conflict with any public purpose or public ownership responsibilities, there simply needs to be a balance between these expectations and the need for public money to be spent and investments made with commercial interests in mind. By doing so this will make best use of those resources which the bodies are also obliged to do. Therefore you are correct to say there is an interest in the public knowing about facilities run for their enjoyment and use but equally there is a public interest in ensuring public and charitable bodies operate in a commercially responsible and intelligent way rather than naively or so openly as to prejudice the objectives they are trying to achieve. This balance can vary from case to case but in this instance it is my view that the information withheld has been done so legitimately. That balance was no doubt different in the cases you refer to.

I trust this has clarified the position for you and that you welcome the additional information provided but if you are not satisfied with this review response you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner and further details are available at: https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/raisin....

Yours sincerely

Michael Guy
Head of Legal Services for English Heritage
Governance and Legal

We help people understand, enjoy and value the historic environment, and protect it for the future. Historic England is a public body, and we champion everyone’s heritage, across England.

This e-mail (and any attachments) is confidential and may contain personal views which are not the views of Historic England unless specifically stated. If you have received it in error, please delete it from your system and notify the sender immediately. Do not use, copy or disclose the information in any way nor act in reliance on it. Any information sent to Historic England may become publicly available.

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