Planning Application 17/05709/FUL - Pre-application advice

Waiting for an internal review by Croydon Borough Council of their handling of this request.

Stephen Whiteside

Dear Croydon Borough Council,

I note from the Application Form that pre-application advice [ref 17/03563/PRE] was provided in July 2017, which apparently included the following comments:

1. Rear balconies at the upper floors must be removed.
2. Left double gable end is not encouraged-Recommendation for balconies both sides at the front elevation.
3. Front entrance should be increased in prominence.
4. Door for private garden at the front elevation must be removed.
5. Location of the refuse store and the cycle store must be swapped.
6. Unit 9 at the second floor has no main bathroom.
7. Request for larger windows to enable more natural light.
8. The building must be pushed forward to mitigate visual impact with 13 Briton Road.
9. Regarding the density the mix of units provided on site must be reduced.
10. The plans must provide a disable space and should be located close to the entrance.

Please provide any information relating to Mr Naylor’s advice, including but not restricted to copies of what was submitted by the applicant, the minutes of any meeting[s] and the officer’s advice letter[s] or email[s].

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Whiteside

Freedom of Information, Croydon Borough Council

 

Dear Mr Whiteside

 

Freedom of Information Request

 

Thank you for your recent request.

 

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Joanne Welch-Hall

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Croydon Council

 

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Freedom of Information, Croydon Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Whiteside

 

Freedom of Information Request

Please see attached the council's response to your Freedom of Information
request.

Yours sincerely

 

Ahtisham Riaz

FOI Coordinator

Croydon Council

 

Council services, online, 24/7 www.croydon.gov.uk/myaccount Download our
new free My Croydon app for a faster, smarter and better way to report
local issues www.croydon.gov.uk/app From 1 October 2015, it is a legal
requirement for all privately rented properties in Croydon to be licensed.
Landlords without a licence could face fines of up to £20,000. For more
information and to apply for a licence visit
www.croydon.gov.uk/betterplacetorent Please use this web site address to
view the council's e-mail disclaimer -
http://www.croydon.gov.uk/email-disclaimer

Stephen Whiteside

Dear Croydon Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Croydon Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Planning Application 17/05709/FUL - Pre-application advice'.

Redacted information

Your response [again] tells me that “Some information has been redacted as it held information relating to individuals… under Regulations 12(3) and 13 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004”.

You [again] tell me that you have “… removed the name and email address of one council officer, as it has been the custom and practice for the Council to generally only release the names of staff down to ‘Head of Service’ level, which the Council considers meets the Transparency Code issued by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.” You also [again] claim that this “custom and practice” is “….consistent with guidance issued by the Information Commissioner, including a Decision Notice issued in respect of a similar request FS50276863.”

You have made the same claims in your response to an earlier request [Your Ref EIR/CRT/10008433], to which I ask you to refer so that I do not have to repeat my challenge in full here.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

I do however, set out below the main arguments contained, for your further and more thorough consideration in THIS case.

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 [EIR]

You have acknowledged that this request has been considered under the provisions of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 [EIR] and the ‘presumption in favour of disclosure’ should therefore have been applied. I believe that the Council has neither shown WHY an exception is engaged in THIS case, nor carried out the Public Interest [PI] test required by the legislation.

Decision Notice - ICO Case Reference FS50276863

The ICO therefore does NOT adopt the simplified approach suggested by Croydon. Instead, the DN referred to illustrates that for a request - which is not a routine matter for which a ‘formula’ is the only practical approach - ALL 3 fairness tests - or factors* - listed by the ICO need to be applied, along with 3 supplementary factors. Their application must have specific regard to the situation.

The three factors ICO considers in judging fairness in disclosure:
1. the individual’s reasonable expectations of what would happen to their information;
2. the consequences of disclosure (if it would cause any unnecessary or unjustified damage or distress to the individual concerned); and
3. the balance between the rights and freedoms of the data subject and the legitimate interests of the public.
The supplementary factors that should be considered:
4. the seniority of the role
5. whether the role is public facing
6. whether the position involves a significant level of personal judgement and individual responsibility

‘Seniority’ is therefore only ONE of SIX factors that ICO guidance describes as needing to be applied and the Council has NOT demonstrated the weighing of ALL the six ‘factors’.

Local Government Transparency Code 2015 [DCLG]

Paragraph 6 explains “This Code ensures local people can now see ... how decisions are taken and who is taking them …”.

Paragraph 22 of the Code also usefully clarifies that “… Where information would otherwise fall within one of the exemptions from disclosure, for instance, under … the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 … Local authorities should start from the PRESUMPTION OF OPENNESS AND DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION [my emphasis], and not rely on exemptions to withhold information unless absolutely necessary.”

Officers of the Council

Although I understand why the more senior employees are most likely to be in scope for the Code, that does NOT automatically 'eliminate' everyone else. It must depend on their role and the specific circumstances... and how the relevant ‘factors’ apply to those.

As the ICO makes clear, “… there is a public interest in fully understanding the reasons for public authorities’ decisions, to remove any suspicion of manipulating the facts, or ‘spin’. For example, this may well be a public interest argument for disclosing advice given to decision makers. …” I believe that those providing any such ‘expert’ advice to elected Members [at Committee] or senior officers [with delegated, decision making authority] should NOT expect their details to be withheld.

The Review

I believe this Council’s approach remains a form of “blanket redaction” and I do not agree that this position “…is consistent with guidance issued by the Information Commissioner …” and/or the “ Decision Notice issued in respect of … FS50276863]…”.

THIS request is being considered under the EIR and the ‘presumption in favour of disclosure’ should be applied. I believe the onus is [still] on the Council to clearly demonstrate WHY, in THIS case, it would be unfair to disclose the redacted information.

The following information should now be provided:
+++ The name [and official email address] of the officer [initially redacted] or the FULL reasons why the Council believes it should remain redacted, in the light of the relevant guidance from the ICO.

+++ Copies of the pre-application submission BY the applicant [drawings, correspondence, payment details etc], none of which has been provided to date.

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

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Whiteside

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