Realis Development Agreement

ian norris made this Freedom of Information request to Stoke on Trent City 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 Stoke on Trent City Council,

Please provide under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and/or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 a copy of the development agreement between Stoke on Trent City Council and Realis Estate (sot) Ltd.

The Council entered into a contract to support, facilitate
and deliver the East West Centre Scheme. This includes the provision of consideration of making a CPO if required as part of the pre-commencement conditions contained in the development agreement. Did it also protect Realis from legal competition within the City?

I believe that the section 43 exemption should not apply in this case because commercial organisations are already less inclined to deal with the City Council, due to the perceived impression of a monopoly being created with one developer.

It is now in the public and commercial interest to release the information to

• further the understanding of, and participation in the debate of issues of the day;
• facilitate the accountability and transparency of public authorities for decisions taken by them;
• facilitate accountability and transparency in the spending of public money;
• allow individuals to understand decisions made by public authorities affecting their lives and, in some cases, assist individuals in challenging those decisions;
• bring to light information affecting public safety.

If you still decide to apply Section 43 please Confirm or Deny that a clause exists in development agreement that obliges Stoke on Trent City Council to protect Realis from legal competition.

Yours faithfully,

ian norris

FOI, Stoke on Trent City Council

Dear Mr Norris
Your request for information ref. SOT20204
Thank you for your request for information about the development agreement
between Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Realise Estates (SOT) Ltd.  Your
request was received by the Information Rights Team on 18 October 2012. 
This is being dealt with under the terms of the appropriate Information
Rights legislation.
In some circumstances we may charge for information.  If there is a charge
we will let you know, as you will have to pay it before we deal with your
request.
Some information does not have to be released under this legislation.  We
will check the information you have asked for and send you as much as
possible.  If another person or organisation is named in the information,
we may have to ask their opinion before we decide what we can give you.
 
You should expect to receive a response to your request on or before 15
November 2012 in line with the legislation's 20 working day statutory
deadline.
 
For your information we may publish the response to your request on our
City Council's website, which can be found at the following address:
[1]www.stoke.gov.uk.
 
If you have any queries about this email please do not hesitate to contact
us.
Yours sincerely
 
Information Rights
 
Information Rights | Support: Business Services 
City of Stoke-on-Trent 
GF23 Stoke Town Hall  Glebe Street  Stoke-on-Trent  ST4 1HH
t 01782 232853
e [2][Stoke on Trent City Council request email]
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dear Stoke on Trent City Council,
 
     Please provide under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and/or
     the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 a copy of the
     development agreement between Stoke on Trent City Council and
     Realis Estate (sot) Ltd.
 
     The Council entered into a contract to support, facilitate
     and deliver the East West Centre Scheme. This includes the
     provision of consideration of making a CPO if required as part of
     the pre-commencement conditions contained in the development
     agreement. Did it also protect Realis from legal competition within
     the City?
 
     I believe that the section 43 exemption should not apply in this
     case because commercial organisations are already less inclined to
     deal with the City Council, due to the perceived impression of a
     monopoly being created with one developer.
 
     It is now in the public and commercial interest to release the
     information to
 
     • further the understanding of, and participation in the debate of
     issues of the day;
     • facilitate the accountability and transparency of public
     authorities for decisions taken by them;
     • facilitate accountability and transparency in the spending of
     public money;
     • allow individuals to understand decisions made by public
     authorities affecting their lives and, in some cases, assist
     individuals in challenging those decisions;
     • bring to light information affecting public safety.
 
     If you still decide to apply Section 43 please Confirm or Deny that
     a clause exists in development agreement that obliges Stoke on
     Trent City Council to protect Realis from legal competition.
 
     Yours faithfully,
 
     ian norris
 
    

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Dear FOI,

request SOT20204 is now due, is there any problem? if you need clarification please just ask.

Yours sincerely,

ian norris

FOI, Stoke on Trent City Council

Dear Mr Norris,

 

Your request for information on the development agreement between Stoke on
Trent City Council and Realis Estate (sot) Ltd

 

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to you. We have
now considered your request for information and although we do hold the
information that you have asked for, unfortunately some of the information
is excepted from disclosure under Regulation 12(5)(e) (the confidentiality
of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is
provided by law to protect legitimate economic interest), Regulation
12(5)(b) (The course of justice, fair trial, conduct of a criminal of
disciplinary inquiry) and Regulation 13 (Personal Data) of the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004, and will not be provided. The
information that we can provide in relation to part 2 of your request is
provided below.

 

Part 1 of your request: the development agreement between Stoke on Trent
City Council and Realis Estate (sot) Ltd

 

Regulation 12(5)(e) applies because the information contained within the
development agreement upon release would adversely affect the commercial
interests of the council and third parties to which the council is
currently in discussions with regarding the Central Business District.

 

Some of the information relates to third parties who are currently
considering relocating their business premises. To release this
information into the public domain would result in the third parties not
wishing to engage with the council in discussions regarding the Central
Business District.  Information relating to the individual build costs for
the proposed offices of the Central Business District are also withheld
for the same reasons.

 

Some of the information relates to the potential rental figures and or
freehold purchase costs that the council may be charged.  Third party
commercial interests would be prejudiced by these figures being released
into the public domain because this may affect the developers ability to
negotiate with other third parties in relation to their occupation of the
Central Business District.

 

Some of the information relates to the names of council buildings where
decisions have not been made as to what the council's intentions are in
relation to them.  To release these into the public domain would prejudice
the council's commercial interests, by developers being able to land bank
and purchase surrounding areas, resulting in the sale prices for council
buildings being suppressed as the council would have a limited market for
which to sell the land.  Additionally the Council undertakes a phased
approach to it's property disposal programme in order to ensure a constant
release of properties to the market. 

 

Some of the information relates to the potential disposal costs of council
buildings and therefore we would not release future building disposals as
this may adversely affect properties which are currently marketed.  This
is likely to result in the Council receiving lower capital receipts for
the sale of these buildings which would result in funding shortfalls
within the capital programme.

 

It is considered that the public interest in withholding the information
is stronger than the public interest in disclosing it.  Although the
council accepts that openness and transparency is important to the public
in order to ensure they are informed about the spending of public money
and understanding decisions taken by the Council, it is felt that it is
not in the public interest to obstruct the primary objective of the
council which is to obtain best value for money and for the public purse. 

 

It is forecasted that the new development will create over three thousand
new jobs, as well as providing a significant and sustained boost to the
local economy.  As the regeneration of the City Centre and Stoke-on-Trent
is paramount to the public interest the Council believes that in order to
protect this initiative this information must not be disclosed at this
time.

 

Regulation 12(5)(b) applies because some of the information relates to
personal signatures of individuals which when released into the public
domain may allow fraudulent activity to be conducted. It is considered
that the public interest in withholding the information is greater than
the public interest in releasing the information, as it is not in the
public interest to provide information that may allow a crime to be
committed.

 

Some of the information you have requested is excepted from disclosure
under Regulation 13 (personal data) which allows us to withhold
information if it relates to someone other than the data subject and where
disclosing the information would contravene the principles of the Data
Protection Act 1998.

 

Part 2 of your request: Did it also protect Realis from legal competition
within the City?

 

No the agreement does not restrict competition within the city.

 

The information supplied may be used for domestic or journalistic
purposes. Its use for commercial gain including issuing to the public may
be subject to the issue of a licence under the Reuse of Public Sector
Information Regulations 2005.

 

If you have any queries about this email, please do not hesitate to
contact us.

 

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision,
you should write to: Information Rights Manager, Customer Feedback and
Information Rights Team, People – Adult and Neighbourhood Services, Stoke
Town Hall, Glebe Street, ST4 1HH or email [1][Stoke on Trent City Council request email].

 

If, after contacting us, you are not content with the outcome, you may ask
the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the Information
Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have already used our
internal review procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted
at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF, tel: 0303 123 1113 or you can visit their
website at [2]www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx.

 

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights

 

 

Information Rights | Customer Access

Customer Feedback & Information Rights Team, People – Adult &
Neighbourhood Services

City of Stoke on Trent

Civic Centre Glebe Street Stoke on Trent ST4 1HH

T: 01782 232853

e: [3][Stoke on Trent City Council request email]

 

 

 

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Dear FOI,

You appear to have refused to provide development agreement between Stoke on Trent City Council and Realis Estate (sot) Ltd, based on negotiations with business's for an entirely separate redevelopment of offices.

Please confirm if this is the correct response?

I believe that the confidentiality should not apply in this case because commercial organisations are already less inclined to deal with the City Council, due to the perceived impression of a monopoly being created with one developer.

It is now in the public and commercial interest to release the information

Yours sincerely,

ian norris

FOI, Stoke on Trent City Council

Dear Mr Norris,

We can confirm that our response is to your request for information in regard to the development agreement between the City Council and Realis Estate Ltd.

You have the option to request an Internal Review. If you are dissatisfied with the response please let us know and an Internal Review will be carried out.

Regards

Information Rights | Customer Access
Customer Feedback & Information Rights Team, People – Adult & Neighbourhood Services
City of Stoke on Trent
Civic Centre Glebe Street Stoke on Trent ST4 1HH
T: 01782 232853
e: [Stoke on Trent City Council request email]

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Dear Stoke on Trent City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Stoke on Trent City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Realis Development Agreement'.

In a letter to unaffiliated Hanley councillor Paul Breeze and published by The Sentinel,

http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/Sal...

Mr van de Laarschot said: "The city council cannot sell the land to CSC as this would in all probability be deemed as a breach of condition of the agreement."

Does not match with the repsonse I had to a FOI on the Developement Agreement between the City Centre and Realis

http://tinyurl.com/but9ydx

Part 2 of your request: Did it also protect Realis from legal competition within the City?

No the agreement does not restrict competition within the city.

Who is telling the Truth

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

Yours faithfully,

ian norris

FOI, Stoke on Trent City Council

Dear Mr Norris,

 

Your request for information on the development agreement between Stoke on
Trent City Council and Realis Estate (sot) Ltd

 

Further to your email of 24/11/12, we have looked again at our response
and unfortunately you have been provided with the incorrect response to
this request. This is the result of an administrative error, please accept
our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. Please discard
the previous response dated 16/11/12.  You will note from the correct
response provided below that we still consider that the information you
have requested cannot be disclosed, and therefore the relevant exception
has been applied. You have requested an Internal Review regarding the
original response, we will proceed with your request for an Internal
Review as per your email of 24/11/12, this will be based on the response
provided below and you will receive an acknowledgement shortly.

 

We have now considered your request for information and although we do
hold the information that you have asked for, unfortunately it is excepted
from disclosure under Regulation 12(5)(e) of the Environmental Information
Regulations 2004 and will not be released.

 

Regulation 12(5)(e) of the regulations allows us to withhold information
where disclosure of that information would adversely affect the
confidentiality of commercial or industrial information when protected by
law to cover legitimate economic interest. This exception applies because
it is likely to adversely affect the commercial interests of both the City
Council and Realis if the Development Agreement which contains specific
details of financial arrangements that they have been negotiated are made
public. Realis are currently undertaking detailed commercial negotiations
with prospective tenants and funders for the delivery of the main scheme
development.  The release of the terms of the Development Agreement, which
details the calculation of ground rent, overage and the commercial terms
between Realis and the Council, creates a very significant commercial risk
of prospective funders and tenants exploiting the relationship between the
Council and Realis in negotiating terms to the detriment of Realis’s
commercial interests.

 

In addition there is very significant commercial risk that disclosure of
the Development Agreement will adversely affect Realis’s commercial
interest by undermining confidence in the Council and Realis’s ability to
retain commercially sensitive information during negotiations.  As a
result of current economic uncertainty and significant short term
commercial and economic pressures, decisions of investment by tenants and
funders are under intense scrutiny.  Confidence in the confidentiality of
commercially sensitive information and the carefully managed release of
commercially sensitive information is necessary to create the platform on
which commercial negotiations can properly take place.

 

It is considered that the public interest in withholding the information
is stronger than the public interest in disclosing it in this case. The
Council believes that the public interest is not best served by releasing
a copy of the Development Agreement into the public domain, because
disclosure of this information would damage the commercial interests of
the City Council and Realis in securing financing for the scheme, tenants,
consultants and building contractors.

 

In answer to your question “Did it also protect Realis from legal
competition within the City?”

The agreement does not restrict competition within the city.

 

The information supplied may be used for domestic or journalistic
purposes. Its use for commercial gain including issuing to the public may
be subject to the issue of a licence under the Reuse of Public Sector
Information Regulations 2005.

 

If you have any queries about this email, please do not hesitate to
contact us.

 

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision,
you should write to: Information Rights Manager, Customer Feedback and
Information Rights Team, People – Adult and Neighbourhood Services, Stoke
Town Hall, Glebe Street, ST4 1HH or email [1][Stoke on Trent City Council request email].

 

If, after contacting us, you are not content with the outcome, you may ask
the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the Information
Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have already used our
internal review procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted
at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF, tel: 0303 123 1113 or you can visit their
website at [2]www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx.

 

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights

 

 

Information Rights | Customer Access

Customer Feedback & Information Rights Team, People – Adult &
Neighbourhood Services

City of Stoke on Trent

Civic Centre Glebe Street Stoke on Trent ST4 1HH

T: 01782 232853

e: [3][Stoke on Trent City Council request email]

 

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FOI, Stoke on Trent City Council

Dear Mr Norris,

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 Internal Review regarding your request for information about the development agreement between Stoke on Trent City Council and Realis Estate (sot) Ltd

Thank you for your correspondence requesting an Internal Review, which was received on 24/11/2012 regarding your request for information about the development agreement between Stoke on Trent City Council and Realis Estate (sot) Ltd.

An internal review for EIR is a statutory requirement and there is a statutory timescale of 40 working days for the Council to respond from the date of receipt of the Internal Review.

If you have any queries about this email please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely,
Information Rights

Information Rights | Customer Access
Customer Feedback & Information Rights Team
People – Adult & Neighbourhood Services
City of Stoke-on-Trent
Civic Centre Glebe Street Stoke-on-Trent ST4 1HH
T: 01782 235965
e: [Stoke on Trent City Council request email]

show quoted sections

FOI, Stoke on Trent City Council

2 Attachments

SOT17024 Freedom of Information Internal Review regarding your request for
information about Strategic Asset Review

Dear Mr Norris,

We have now conducted an Internal Review regarding your request for
information about Strategic Asset Review.  We apologise for the delay in
you receiving this response and for any inconvenience that this may have
caused.

 

We can confirm that your Review has been upheld.  Please find our
explanation for this below.

 

Your request:

 

Is Corporate Asset Management site on the intranet available for public
access via Libraries or in the Civic Centre?  Has the "Strategic Asset
Review" yet been published? if so can you please supply a link or
electronic copy?

 

As the latest Asset Management report I can find is from 2007

[1]http://www.moderngov.stoke.gov.uk/mgConv... which
lists asset values as well as backlog maintenance costs, maybe a later
update has been produced.

 

Any information you can provide will be most welcome.

 

The Council’s response to your request:

 

Your request for information on Strategic Asset reviews

 

We have now considered your request for information and find that the
information is not available.

Since 2007 there have been substantial changes to the councils property
teams following restructures and changes to the way we deliver services.
Asset Management is now incorporated with our Estates Services function
within the City Renewal directorate. The Corporate Asset Management
Website was available on the intranet for internal council use, however
this system is now obsolete.  We are currently working towards providing a
customer focused website which can be accessed by the public. This is
likely to be available towards the end of the year.

The council now reviews its assets for specific purposes such as the
Central Business District proposals and as such a “Strategic Asset Review”
is no longer available.

If you have any queries about this email, please do not hesitate to
contact me.

 

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision,
you should write to: Information Rights Manager, Customer Feedback and
Information Rights Team, People – Adult and Neighbourhood Services, Stoke
Town Hall, Glebe Street, ST4 1HH or email [2][Stoke on Trent City Council request email].

 

If, after contacting us, you are not content with the outcome, you may ask
the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the Information
Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have already used our
appeal procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

 

Your Internal Review:

 

Please conduct internal review on why no recorded information on the
review is available

When the report to Cabinet 31st May
[3]http://www.moderngov.stoke.gov.uk/mgConv...

3.4 Whilst this exercise did not progress, the City Council has since
carried out a Strategic Asset Review which has concluded that, in addition
to the regeneration value described above, co-location of public services
within the Central Business District is feasible, will enable more
effective business operation, and would also lead to better service
provision.

Yet your reply says a “Strategic Asset Review” is no longer available. 
How does a non existent report come to a conclusion.

 

Internal Review Investigation and Findings:

 

Following the receipt of your internal review, the Council has now
reconsidered its response that was provided to you on the 4/07/2012.  We
have liaised with the City Renewal Department of the Council and we can
clarify that the Council does not hold a report named the 'Strategic Asset
Review'  and therefore this information could not be provided.  However
within your internal review you refer to the co-location of public
services within the Central Business District and therefore we can inform
you that the council holds two reports relating to this subject.

 

1. Office Accommodation Estates Strategy and Delivery Plan prepared by
Savills

 

This report identifies the backlog maintenance and a range of other
property issues and costs which have been considered as part of a very
detailed review of the council's administrative buildings and the future
asset requirements of the council and the related regeneration impacts. 
Please note that the information contained in this report is information
collated before March 2012 and therefore this information is now out of
date and will change.

 

2. Office Rationalisation Strategy

 

This was previous report which reviewed the Council's asset base.  This
was superseded by the above.

 

Environmental Information Regulations 2004

 

Following reconsideration of the original response it is considered that
the information that you have requested falls under the definition of
environmental information, and therefore is subject to the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004.

 

This is because it is considered that the nature of the information
relates the definitions as described in 2(1) of the Regulations.  This
includes the definitions at 2(1)(c) "measures (including administrative
measures) such as policies, plans, programmes and activities likely to
affect the elements and factors of the state of the elements of the
environment", and 2(1)(f) "built structures in so much as they are or may
be affected by the state of the elements of the environment".

 

Incorrect Exemption applied

 

It is considered that the exemption at section 22(1) of the Freedom of
Information Act was applied incorrectly to the original response, as
following further clarification regarding the purpose of these reports, it
has become clear that they were not produced with an intention to publish
them at a future date.  The reports were produced to allow the council to
assess the Council's current and future asset requirements.

 

Applicable EIR Exceptions

 

Although the council does hold the above two reports, some of the
information contained within them is subject to the exceptions at
Regulation 12(5)(e) (the confidentiality of commercial or industrial
information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect
legitimate economic interest), Regulation 12(5)(b) (The course of justice,
fair trial, conduct of a criminal or disciplinary inquiry) and Regulation
13 (Personal Data) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, and
will not be provided.

 

Regulation 12(5)(e) applies because it is felt that some information
contained within the reports upon release would adversely affect the
commercial interests of the council and third parties to which the council
is currently in discussions with regarding the Central Business District.

 

Some of the information relates to third parties who are currently
considering relocating their business premises, where this information is
not available in the public domain, this information has been removed.  To
release this information into the public domain would result in the third
parties not wishing to engage with the council in discussions regarding
the Central Business District.  Information relating to the individual
build costs and fit-out costs for the proposed offices of the Central
Business District has also been removed for the same reasons.

 

Some of the information relates to the potential rental figures and or
freehold purchase costs that the council may be charged.  Third party
commercial interests would be prejudiced by these figures being released
into the public domain because this may affect the developers ability to
negotiate with other third parties in relation to their occupation of the
Central Business District.  The Council's commercial interests is also
likely to be prejudiced upon release of this information because its
objectives of regeneration of the City Centre by provision of the Central
Business District would be at risk, therefore the Councils financial
investment in being the first anchor tenant of the Central Business
District would not provide the regeneration benefits that have been
envisaged.

 

Some of the information relates to the names of council buildings where
decisions have not been made as to what the council's intentions are in
relation to them.  Therefore these names have been removed as to release
these into the public domain would prejudice the council's commercial
interests, by developers being able to land bank and purchase surrounding
areas, resulting in the sale prices for council buildings being suppressed
as the council would have a limited market for which to sell the land. 
Additionally the Council undertakes a phased approach to it's property
disposal programme in order to ensure a constant release of properties to
the market. 

 

Some of the information relates to the potential disposal costs of council
buildings and therefore would not release future building disposals as
this may adversely affect properties which are currently marketed.  This
is likely to result in the Council receiving lower capital receipts for
the sale of these buildings which would result in funding shortfalls
within the capital programme.

 

Some of the information relates to the money which will be spent and is to
be spent in relation to contracts currently let and to be let for the
purposes of site remediation and public realm works.  This information has
been removed as it is considered that releasing this information into the
public domain would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of the
City Council due to the Council receiving higher quotes or tender returns
for this work.

 

It is considered that the public interest in withholding the information
is stronger than the public interest in disclosing it.  Although the
council accepts that openness and transparency is important to the public
in order to ensure they are informed about the spending of public money
and understanding decisions taken by the Council, it is felt that it is
not in the public interest to obstruct the primary objective of the
council which is to obtain best value for money and for the public purse. 

 

It is forecasted that the new development will create over three thousand
new jobs, as well as providing a significant and sustained boost to the
local economy.  As the regeneration of the City Centre and Stoke-on-Trent
is paramount to the public interest the Council believes that in order to
protect this initiative this information must not be disclosed at this
time.

 

Regulation 12(5)(b) applies because some of the information relates to
personal signatures of individuals which when released into the public
domain may allow fraudulent activity to be conducted.  It is considered
that the public interest in withholding the information is greater than
the public interest in releasing the information, as it is not in the
public interest to provide information that may allow a crime to be
committed.

 

Regulation 13 allows us to withhold information if it relates to someone
other than the data subject and where disclosing the information would
contravene the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998.  Therefore some
personal contact details have been removed from the information.

 

The information supplied may be used for domestic or journalistic
purposes. Its use for commercial gain including issuing to the public may
be subject to the issue of a licence under the Reuse of Public Sector
Information Regulations 2005.

 

This internal review is now closed.

 

If you have any queries about this email, please do not hesitate to
contact us.

 

If you are still not content with the outcome, you may ask the Information
Commissioner for a decision.

 

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire,

SK9 5AF.

 

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights

 

Information Rights | Customer Access

Customer Feedback & Information Rights Team

People – Adult & Neighbourhood Services

City of Stoke-on-Trent

Civic Centre Glebe Street Stoke-on-Trent ST4 1HH

T: 01782 235965

e: [4][Stoke on Trent City Council request email]

 

Find out about the city council’s 2013 budget and have your say by going
to [5]www.stoke.gov.uk/budget2013 or [6]www.facebook.com/sotbudget2013

Our vision is to provide Excellent Services, Valued by Customers, if you
think we have given you a good service, please click here to find out
about our awards: [7]www.stoke.gov.uk/wowawards
 

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.moderngov.stoke.gov.uk/mgConv...
2. mailto:[Stoke on Trent City Council request email]
3. http://www.moderngov.stoke.gov.uk/mgConv...
4. mailto:[Stoke on Trent City Council request email]
5. http://www.stoke.gov.uk/budget2013
6. http://www.facebook.com/sotbudget2013
7. http://www.stoke.gov.uk/wowawards

Dear FOI,

SOT20204 The EIR internal review and request to confirm or deny the existence of such a protection clause is now long over due.

Please advise if you are able to comment on review and cause of such a delay

Yours sincerely,

ian norris

FOI, Stoke on Trent City Council

1 Attachment

SOT20204 Environmental Information Regulations Internal Review regarding
your request for information on the development agreement between
Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Realis Estate (S.O.T.) Ltd

Dear Mr Norris,

 

I am instructed to inform you that we have now conducted an Internal
Review regarding your request for information about the development
agreement between Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Realis Estate (S.O.T.)
Ltd.  We apologise for the long delay in you receiving this response and
for any inconvenience that this delay may have caused.

 

We can confirm that your Internal Review has been upheld in part.  Please
find our explanation for this below.

 

Your request:

 

Please provide under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and/or the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 a copy of the development
agreement between Stoke on Trent City Council and Realis Estate (sot) Ltd.

    

The Council entered into a contract to support, facilitate and deliver the
East West Centre Scheme. This includes the provision of consideration of
making a CPO if required as part of the pre-commencement conditions
contained in the development agreement. Did it also protect Realis from
legal competition within the City?  I believe that the section 43
exemption should not apply in this case because commercial organisations
are already less inclined to

deal with the City Council, due to the perceived impression of a monopoly
being created with one developer.

    

It is now in the public and commercial interest to release the information
to

    

     • further the understanding of, and participation in the debate of
issues of the day;

     • facilitate the accountability and transparency of public
authorities for decisions taken by them;

     • facilitate accountability and transparency in the spending of
public money;

     • allow individuals to understand decisions made by public
authorities affecting their lives and, in some cases, assist individuals
in challenging those decisions;

     • bring to light information affecting public safety.

    

If you still decide to apply Section 43 please Confirm or Deny that a
clause exists in development agreement that obliges Stoke on Trent City
Council to protect Realis from legal competition.

 

The Council’s response to your request:

 

Further to your email of 24/11/12, we have looked again at our response
and unfortunately you have been provided with the incorrect response to
this request. This is the result of an administrative error, please accept
our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. Please discard
the previous response dated 16/11/12.  You will note from the correct
response provided below that we still consider that the information you
have requested cannot be disclosed, and therefore the relevant exception
has been applied. You have requested an Internal Review regarding the
original response, we will proceed with your request for an Internal
Review as per your email of 24/11/12, this will be based on the response
provided below and you will receive an acknowledgement shortly.

 

We have now considered your request for information and although we do
hold the information that you have asked for, unfortunately it is excepted
from disclosure under Regulation 12(5)(e) of the Environmental Information
Regulations 2004 and will not be released.

 

Regulation 12(5)(e) of the regulations allows us to withhold information
where disclosure of that information would adversely affect the
confidentiality of commercial or industrial information when protected by
law to cover legitimate economic interest. This exception applies because
it is likely to adversely affect the commercial interests of both the City
Council and Realis if the Development Agreement which contains specific
details of financial arrangements that they have been negotiated are made
public. Realis are currently undertaking detailed commercial negotiations
with prospective tenants and funders for the delivery of the main scheme
development.  The release of the terms of the Development Agreement, which
details the calculation of ground rent, overage and the commercial terms
between Realis and the Council, creates a very significant commercial risk
of prospective funders and tenants exploiting the relationship between the
Council and Realis in negotiating terms to the detriment of Realis’s
commercial interests.

 

In addition there is very significant commercial risk that disclosure of
the Development Agreement will adversely affect Realis’s commercial
interest by undermining confidence in the Council and Realis’s ability to
retain commercially sensitive information during negotiations.  As a
result of current economic uncertainty and significant short term
commercial and economic pressures, decisions of investment by tenants and
funders are under intense scrutiny.  Confidence in the confidentiality of
commercially sensitive information and the carefully managed release of
commercially sensitive information is necessary to create the platform on
which commercial negotiations can properly take place.

 

It is considered that the public interest in withholding the information
is stronger than the public interest in disclosing it in this case. The
Council believes that the public interest is not best served by releasing
a copy of the Development Agreement into the public domain, because
disclosure of this information would damage the commercial interests of
the City Council and Realis in securing financing for the scheme, tenants,
consultants and building contractors.

 

In answer to your question “Did it also protect Realis from legal
competition within the City?”

 

The agreement does not restrict competition within the city.

 

The information supplied may be used for domestic or journalistic
purposes. Its use for commercial gain including issuing to the public may
be subject to the issue of a licence under the Reuse of Public Sector
Information Regulations 2005.

 

Your Internal Review:

 

I am writing to request an internal review of Stoke on Trent City
Council's handling of my FOI request 'Realis Development Agreement'.

    

In a letter to unaffiliated Hanley councillor Paul Breeze and published by
The Sentinel,
[1]http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/Sal...

    

Mr van de Laarschot said: "The city council cannot sell the land to CSC as
this would in all probability be deemed as a breach of condition of the
agreement."  Does not match with the response I had to a FOI on the
Development Agreement between the City Centre and Realis.

    

[2]http://tinyurl.com/but9ydx

    

Part 2 of your request: Did it also protect Realis from legal competition
within the City?

    

No the agreement does not restrict competition within the city.

    

Who is telling the Truth

 

Internal Review Investigation and Findings:

 

Following the receipt of your internal review, we have revisited the
original response to your request.  As part of this internal review
response, we are now sending to you a copy of the Development Agreement
redacted to reflect those parts of the Development Agreement which we
maintain should be excluded from disclosure.  Please find this information
attached above.

 

Our reasons for maintaining these exceptions are set out below.

 

Some of the information within the agreement has been withheld under
Regulation 12(5)(d) The confidentiality of proceedings of that or any
other pubic authority where such confidentiality is provided by law and
Regulation 12(5)(e) the confidentiality of commercial or industrial
information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protection a
legitimate economic interest of the Environmental Information Regulations
2004 and will not be provided.

 

Regulation 12(5)(d) (Section 41(1) Freedom of Information)

 

The above regulation allows us to withhold information if its disclosure
would adversely affect confidentiality of public authority proceedings
when covered by law.  This exception still applies because it is
considered that the disclosure of the redacted information will adversely
affect the ability of Realis to negotiate competitive terms with future
tenants and or building contractors.  If information such as Realis’s cost
assumption model and the financial model were released into the public
domain, this would lead to an increase in construction costs to Realis and
a decrease in the amount of rental income.  This would then have a
negative impact upon Realis’s ability to raise funds for the project. 

 

Additionally, clause 22 of the Development Agreement provides for the
confidentiality of all matters relating to the Development Agreement.  The
Council is contractually obliged to uphold its covenant in this regard to
Realis.  It is considered that this information was obtained from a third
party (Realis) and does have a necessary quality of confidence for the
reasons given above.   It is considered that to release this information
would constitute an actionable by breach of confidence by Realis against
the Council, which would be likely to lead to the Council being liable for
damages payable.

 

Although the public interest is served by openness and transparency, it is
considered that the public interest in withholding the information is
stronger than the public interest in disclosing it.  This is because the
Council considers that the public interest is greater served by securing
the redevelopment of the City Centre together with associated
regeneration, jobs and prospects for the City that will be delivered by
this project.

 

Regulation 12(5)(e) (Section 43(2) Freedom of Information)

 

The above regulation allows us to withhold information if its disclosure
would adversely affect the confidentiality of commercial or industrial
information, when protected by law to cover legitimate economic interest. 
This exception still applies because it is considered that the disclosure
of the redacted information would adversely affect the commercial
interests of both the Council and Realis if such financial arrangements
that have been negotiated are made public.  Realis are currently
undertaking detailed commercial negotiations with prospective tenants and
funders for the delivery of the main scheme development.  The release of
the terms of the Development Agreement, which details the calculation of
ground rent, overage and the commercial terms between Realis and the
Council, creates a very significant commercial risk of prospective funders
and tenants exploiting the relationship between the Council and Realis in
negotiating terms to the detriment of Realis’s commercial interests.

 

In addition there is very significant commercial risk that disclosure of
the Development Agreement will adversely affect Realis’s commercial
interest by undermining confidence in the Council and Realis’s ability to
retain commercially sensitive information during negotiations.  As a
result of current economic uncertainty and significant short term
commercial and economic pressures, decisions of investment by tenants and
funders are under intense scrutiny.  Confidence in the confidentiality of
commercially sensitive information and the carefully managed release of
commercially sensitive information is necessary to create the platform on
which commercial negotiations can properly take place.

 

It is considered that the public interest in withholding the information
is stronger than the public interest in disclosing it in this case. The
Council believes that the public interest is not best served by releasing
a complete copy of the Development Agreement into the public domain,
because disclosure of some of the information would damage the commercial
interests of the City Council and Realis in securing financing for the
scheme, tenants, consultants and building contractors.

 

If you have any queries about this email, please do not hesitate to
contact us.

 

The information supplied may be used for domestic or journalistic
purposes. Its use for commercial gain including issuing to the public may
be subject to the issue of a licence under the Reuse of Public Sector
Information Regulations 2005.

 

If, after contacting us, you are not content with the outcome, you may ask
the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the Information
Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have already used our
internal review procedure.

 

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF, Tel: 0303 123 1113 or you can visit their website at
[3]www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx.

 

Yours sincerely,

Louise Kelly

 

Information Rights | Customer Access

Customer Feedback & Information Rights Team

People – Adult & Neighbourhood Services

City of Stoke-on-Trent

Civic Centre Glebe Street Stoke-on-Trent ST4 1HH

T: 01782 235965

e: [4][Stoke on Trent City Council request email]

 

 

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References

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1. http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/Sal...
2. http://tinyurl.com/but9ydx
3. http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx
4. mailto:[Stoke on Trent City Council request email]
5. http://www.stoke.gov.uk/
6. mailto:[email address]
7. http://www.stoke.gov.uk/wowawards