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.

By way of introduction, a Council spokesperson spoke to the Sidmouth Herald, which published the following statement on 5th December 2017:

“PegasusLife has submitted viability evidence to demonstrate that the scheme would not be viable if it were to provide affordable housing, which the council has accepted.

“The council has had this information independently assessed by specialists in development viability who have confirmed that the development cannot afford to meet the council’s policy requirements for affordable housing.

“Accordingly, the council has required an overage clause to be included within the section 106 agreement, which will seek to obtain a contribution towards affordable housing in the event that the scheme is more profitable than currently envisaged. This approach has been used before and supported by planning inspectors at appeal. If the development is found to be C2 by the inspector then there would be no affordable housing required to be provided.

“However, the Knowle inquiry is still ongoing and is timetabled to conclude today (Tuesday). We anticipate receiving a final decision from the inspector in January.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/kno...

With reference to the above, I would like you to provide me with the following:

> The full, unredacted “viability evidence to demonstrate that the scheme would not be viable if it were to provide affordable housing.”

> The full thread of paperwork which demonstrates that the “council has accepted” the viability evidence.

> The full, unredacted assessment of this information from the “specialists in development viability who have confirmed that the development cannot afford to meet the council’s policy requirements for affordable housing.”

> The 106 agreement has been made available: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/k...

Nevertheless, I would like you to provide me with:

> The full thread of paperwork which demonstrates the precise mechanisms by which the section 106 agreement “will seek to obtain a contribution towards affordable housing in the event that the scheme is more profitable than currently envisaged.”

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 101000789233 .

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Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

3 Attachments

Mr Woodward

 

Thank you for your request for information. Please find our response below
and attached.

 

The full, unredacted viability evidence to demonstrate that the scheme
would not be viable if it were to provide affordable housing.
A copy of the viability report is attached. Please note that there has
been a small number of redactions made in the appendices to remove
information which is commercially confidential. This information is
withheld under s43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

The full thread of paperwork which demonstrates that the council has
accepted the viability evidence.

Please see viability information attached.

 

The full, unredacted assessment of this information from the specialists
in development viability who have confirmed that the development cannot
afford to meet the council’s policy requirements for affordable housing.
Please see attached.

 

The full thread of paperwork which demonstrates the precise mechanisms by
which the section 106 agreement will seek to obtain a contribution towards
affordable housing in the event that the scheme is more profitable than
currently envisaged.

The s106 agreement can be accessed here
[1]http://eastdevon.gov.uk/planning/view-pl...
- enter the application reference in the search box 16/0872/MFUL

I hope this response is helpful but, if you feel dissatisfied with the way
we have responded, you have the right to request an internal review by
contacting our Monitoring Officer, Mr Henry Gordon Lennox, at
[2][email address]

 

You may also approach the Information Commissioner for advice at
[3]www.ico.org.uk

 

Regards

 

Mrs Kate Symington

Information and Complaints Officer

East Devon District Council

 

01395 517417

www.eastdevon.gov.uk

 

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Dear Ms Symington,

Thank you for the information.

I would like to request an internal review.

I would now like you to provide me with the following:

> The full, unredacted “viability evidence to demonstrate that the scheme would not be viable if it were to provide affordable housing.” To reiterate, I would like the full, unredacted version.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Woodward

Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

This is an automated reply.

 

I am out of the office until Monday 26th February 2018.

 

If you would like to make a complaint or submit a request for information
under the Freedom of Information Act, please refer to our website at
[1]www.eastdevon.gov.uk or phone 01395 516551 during office hours.

 

 

 

 

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Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

Good afternoon Mr Woodward

Thank you for your email. I am sorry you feel dissatisfied with our response to your request for information. I have logged this on our system as a request for an internal review with reference 801693 and we will respond to you within 20 working days of receipt of your email.

Regards

Kate

Mrs Kate Symington
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

01395 517417
www.eastdevon.gov.uk

show quoted sections

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 101000804064 .

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Henry Gordon Lennox, East Devon District Council

Mr Woodward

 

I am sorry that you feel dissatisfied with our response to your request
for information. You asked for the viability evidence submitted by
PegasusLife in respect of their recent planning appeal for development at
Knowle, Sidmouth.

 

This information has already been provided to you with a small number of
redactions, under s43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act, to reflect
information which  is considered to be commercially confidential.

 

You have requested that the information be provided to you, in full,
including all previously redacted information.

 

We have reviewed our response and have consulted with the third party
provider of this information, PegasusLife. The information which has been
redacted constitutes anticipated contingency, profit and construction
costs which, if disclosed at this time, in advance of contracts being
awarded, would be harmful to the commercial interests of PegasusLife by
weakening their negotiating position in a competitive market.

 

In considering your request we have applied the public interest test, in
line with the requirement to do so under s43(2) of the Freedom of
Information Act. Whilst there is often an argument for openness and
transparency due to the nature of our work as a public authority, it
should be noted that the redactions in this case are made in the interests
of protecting third party commercial interests and are not directly
connected with the spending of public money or the accountability of the
authority.

 

In terms of the information requested on this occasion, this constitutes
viability evidence provided by PegasusLife to support a recent planning
appeal. The appeals process was carried out independently of the council
and the council was advised by an independent body in terms on viability.
 We do not see a compelling public interest argument in the wider general
public having access to the proposed construction and contingency costs of
a development being carried out by a private company. In fact, the public
benefit lies in protecting the commercial interests of companies to enable
them to continue to operate in competitive and efficient markets.

 

If you feel strongly that the public interest in this case favours
disclosure, please provide your reasoning for this and we will consider it
but, in the absence of this, your email appears to simply be a request to
see information which may be of interest to you and for the sake of
completeness. Otherwise, if you remain dissatisfied with our response to
your request, you have the right to refer matters to the Information
Commissioner [1]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely,

 

HENRY GORDON LENNOX

 

Monitoring Officer

East Devon District Council

Tel: 01395 517401

Ext: 2601

Email: [2][email address]

 

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Dear Mr Gordon Lennox,

Thank you for your reply.

I have now referred the matter to the Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Woodward

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