Supermarket plans in Marple, on existing college site

The request was refused by Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council.

Dear Stockport Borough Council,

Please could you furnish me with details of correspondence between Tesco, Turner and Townsend, Walsingham Planning, Cheadle & Marple Sixth Form College and the council (officers and elected officials) and within the council with regard to plans for a supermarket on the existing college site in Marple?

Yours faithfully,

Neil Corrie.

S Thomas left an annotation ()

Hi Neil, you might find it beneficial to widen this to 'any correspondance', including potential for plans and inquiries about potential for development or change of use at the college site in Marple?

I'm assuming that once details are made available you'll explicitly ask for copies of the correspondance.

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Corrie,

Thank you for your request for information which has been given reference
4521. Please quote this on any correspondence regarding your request.

Stockport Council will respond to your request within 20 working days. If
there will be a charge for disbursements e.g. photocopying in order to
provide the information, we will inform you as soon as possible to see if
you wish to proceed; however such charges are usually waived if they
amount to less than £10.

Yours sincerely,

Corporate Information Service

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FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Corrie,

I am writing in response to your request for information (ref FOI 4521).

The information has been prepared by the relevant Council service and is
as follows and attached:

Our policy is to be as open with the information as possible and please
find attached a redacted copy of the email from Mr Lawrence to the
college. However I have to inform you that the college has stated that all
of its correspondence with the council regarding the pre-application
process is commercially sensitive. This is because the information is
considered likely to prejudice the commercial interests of the college in
that if we release information regarding their indicative proposals, it
may negatively influence potential purchasers or proposals.

It may be argued that it is in the public interest to disclose the
information you are requesting and when we decided to refuse to disclose
it we conducted the ‚Äėpublic interest test‚Äô in accordance with Section
17 of the Act. After doing this we concluded that on balance the public
interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in
disclosing the information. This is because disclosure may impact on the
commercial interests of the college and they have stated the information
they have given is confidential. It is also understood that all relevant
information about definitive proposals will be released at the planning
application stage.

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request you are
entitled to ask for an internal review. Any internal review will be
carried out by a senior member of staff who was not involved with your
original request. To ask for an internal review, contact
[1][email address] in the first instance.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of any internal review, you are
entitled to complain to the Information Commissioner. To do so, contact:

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

[2]www.ico.gov.uk

01625 545 745

Yours sincerely,

Corporate Information Service

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Dear Stockport Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Stockport Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Supermarket plans in Marple, on existing college site'.

I fail to see why significant portions of this correspondence have been deemed commercially sensitive and would appreciate your conducting a review of the decision to redact so much content. There is a clear public interest point here : the proposal would have a very significant impact on local residents in terms of noise and traffic (the proposed plot is surrounded on 4 sides by residential property), Marple itself risks significant increases to traffic congestion, and the introduction of such a huge development would place many businesses in Marple town centre at risk. Furthermore, thousands of local residents have expressed their concern at this development, by way of public meetings, public protests, lobbying of the local MP/councillors and signing of petitions.

These many reasons appear to outweigh the narrow commercial interests of the college, so I would appreciate your conducting of the review.

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

Yours faithfully,

Neil Corrie

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Mr Corrie

Stockport Council has a poor track record on FOI requests. If you persist, despite this clearly being in the public interest, they are likely to brand you vexatious and defame you publicly. I do hope you don't give up though.

Of interest, maybe, I asked the college principal regarding plans to develop this site with a supermarket in 2008 and she refused to reply under the FOI.

Good luck

Sheila

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Corrie,

I am writing in response to your request for an internal review in
relation to FOI request reference 4521.

An internal review will be carried out by a senior member of staff who was
not involved with your original request. The Council aims to respond to
internal reviews within 20 working days of receipt.

Yours sincerely,

Corporate Information Services

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

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FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Corrie,

 

I am writing in response to your request for internal review below (ref
4521).

 

The internal review has been carried out by a senior member of staff who
was not involved with the original decision to withhold information. The
review is below:

 

Dear Mr Corrie,

 

I refer to your request for an internal review of the above response to
your FOI request.

 

You initially requested details of correspondence between Tesco, Turner
and Townsend, Walsingham Planning, Cheadle and Marple College and the
Council regarding plans for a supermarket on the existing College site in
Marple.

 

In our response we provided all relevant correspondence with a section of
one email redacted.  This was on the basis that it was considered that it
would affect the commercial interests of the college.

 

I have reviewed copies of all the documentation sent to you and consider
that the Council was correct in withholding certain information.  This is
because the content of the withheld information essentially describes the
College’s advisors’ planning case which is based on their professional
interpretation of local and national planning policy.  This interpretation
could have a direct relationship with the commercial value of the
College’s site.

 

On this basis the exception from disclosure at Regulation 12(5)(e)
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 applies because the withheld
information would adversely affect the confidentiality of commercial
information. Although this exception applies, information can only be
withheld if this is in the public interest i.e. it is in the interests of
the public as a whole that this information is available.

 

I have considered the public interest factors of this request.  In my view
making all information publicly available would further promote openness
and transparency in what is already an open and transparent system. 
However in this instance the public interest lies in withholding this
element of the information because there are circumstances where
developers and/or their agents wish to explore development options with
local planning authorities to maximise the commercial value of their
client’s site, while meeting the requirements of both local and national
policies.  It is important to developers and their agents generally to
have confidence in exploring their options in a confidential manner,
without this becoming publicly available.  On this basis, the redacted
information is exempt from disclosure and will not be provided.

 

If you are unhappy with the outcome of this internal review, you are
entitled to complain to the Information Commissioner. To do so, contact:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

[1]www.ico.gov.uk

 

01625 545 745

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Jim McMahon

Director of Major Projects

Communities, Regeneration & Environment Directorate

Stockport Council

 

 

 

Corporate Information Services

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

 

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