Viability Assessment for Planning Application 12/AP/1092

The request was refused by Southwark Borough Council.

Dear Southwark Borough Council,

I am requesting a copy of the Financial Viability Assessment submitted with the planning application which was made on 28th March 2012 - reference no. 12/AP/1092.

Yours faithfully,

A Glasspool

Wannop, Laura, Southwark Borough Council

Dear A Glasspool,

Re: Your request for information: 225434

Thank you for your request for information that was received on 10 May
2012 in which you requested:

I am requesting a copy of the Financial Viability Assessment submitted
with the planning application which was made on 28^th March 2012 -
reference no. 12/AP/1092.

Your request has been dealt with under the Environmental Information
Regulations 2004.

Please note that as the information requested related to information
provided by a third party, the council notified them of this request and
offered them the opportunity to discuss any particular issues or concerns
that they considered relevant to the question of disclosure of this
information before the council decided whether or not to release the
information.  However, although the council is obliged to offer the third
party this opportunity, the decision on whether to release any information
lies ultimately with the council.

Having considered your request and the third party response to this, the
council regrets to inform you that the information you requested is being
withheld under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. The
exception that applies to this information is: Regulation 12(5)(e) where
disclosure would adversely affect or be very likely to prejudice the
commercial interests of the council and / or any third party

Reliance upon an exemption under the EIR is always subject to the
requirement under Regulation 12(1)(b) that the public interest in
maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the
information.

In this instance, the council asserts that the public interest in
providing this information does not out weigh the likely prejudice to
commercial and economic interests of both the council and the third party.

In arriving at this view, the council has considered the following factors
both for and against the release of information.

Factors in favour of release:

* Regulation 5 of the Environmental Information Regulations states where
a public authority holds environmental information; it shall make it
available on request and, as a starting point, the council is required
to apply a presumption in favour of disclosure.
* The specific request is in relation to a large scale regeneration
scheme covering a large area of the borough and affecting many
residents as a result.  The sheer scale of the plans carries with it
an inherent amount of public interest.

Factors in favour of withholding:

* The fact that the information sets out commercial assumptions and
calculations applied by the third party, which if disclosed would
adversely affect the council’s and third party’s economic interests as
well as placing the third party at a competitive disadvantage in any
future development opportunity
* The fact that within the regeneration agreement signed by the council
and the third party, the council have agreed to maintain
confidentiality of all confidential information provided by the third
party (please note, the council acknowledges this is a consideration
only and does not confer the right of absolute confidentiality under
EIR legislation)
* The fact that when releasing information under the legislation it is
considered releasing information to the public as a whole however,
subsequent to this, both parties have a right to negotiate for the
best economic outcome of this or any development free from external
prejudice and potential competitive scrutiny
* The fact that the third party will have an ongoing interest in this
site and should the calculations, analyses and assessments be
released, it is very likely to prejudice any future negotiations, such
as disposals and sub-lettings, in relation to this development which
will be very detrimental to the competitive negotiating position of
the third party and, subsequently, prejudice the viability of the
development as a whole
* The fact that to reveal this information would be likely to put the
third party at a competitive disadvantage in the future against rival
developers in similar markets

It is the council’s assertion that the factors in favour of withholding
this very sensitive commercial information outweigh the factors in favour
of release and therefore, in accordance with Regulation 14 of the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 this letter acts as a Refusal
Notice.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make an appeal for a review of our decision, please
write to the:

Corporate Freedom of Information officer
The Governance team (2^nd Floor)
PO Box 64529 London.  SE1 5LXP
Email: [1][Southwark Borough Council request email]

If you are not content with the outcome your appeal, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
Information Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have first
exhausted our internal appeal procedure and you should contact him within
2 months of the outcome of your internal appeal.

Further information on the Freedom of Information Act is available through
the Information Commissioner at the:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire.  SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700
Internet: [2]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Kind regards,
Laura

Departmental coordinator
Chief executive's office
Deputy chief executive's department
5th floor, hub 4
PO Box 64529, London SE1P 5LX
160 Tooley Street, London SE1 2QH

[3]www.southwark.gov.uk/regeneration

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/
3. file://www.southwark.gov.uk/regeneration

Dear Southwark Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Southwark Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Viability Assessment for Planning Application 12/AP/1092'.

I feel that the public interest in this case far outweighs concerns about commercial sensitivity, and that the decision not to provide the information should be reviewed. The council has signed a deal with developers to demolish 1200 council homes and replace them with 2500 new ones. Southwark's own planning policy requires that 35% of these homes should be affordable (Core Strategy E&C Opportunity Area). If the planning application concerned contained a guarantee of this 35% affordable housing it would be in line with policy and there would be no need for further redress. However, the planning application contains no minimum guarantee and states that the level of affordable housing will be wholly dependent on the outcome of the financial viability assessment. This the largest planning application in its history, and in light of the fact that it doesn't comply with policy it is in the public's interest to see why it isn't able to comply with planning policy.

A large number of people have already objected to the application on the grounds that it doesn't conform to the affordable housing requirements. This demonstrates that there is widespread public concern and interest in the case. The council's decision to keep the document secret is a failure of openness, transparency and democracy. Please review the decision and publish the financial viability assessment without further delay.

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

Yours faithfully,

A Glasspool

Mark, Ian, Southwark Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Glasspool

Please find below the council's reply to your request for an internal
review of our response to your original request.

I apologise for the delay that has occurred in this matter.

Yours sincerely

Ian Mark
Senior Lawyer (Governance)
Corporate Team
Legal Services
Finance and Corporate Services
Southwark Council

Tel: 020 7525 3441
Fax: 020 7525 7675
Email [email address]

Postal address:
Southwark Council, 2nd Floor, PO Box 64529, London SE1P 5LX

Physical address:
Southwark Council, 160 Tooley Street, London SE1 2QH

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: A Glasspool [mailto:[email address]]
Sent: 09 August 2012 17:54
To: Mark, Ian
Subject: Re: Internal Review - EIR Request Ref Number 225434(0)
Dear Mr. Mark,
Thank you for your prompt response.
As I am sure you are fully aware, all exceptions to disclosure under EIR
are subject to the public interest test. In the case of Bristol City
Council v Information Commissioner and (May 2010) the First Tier Tribunal
(hearing an appeal against the decision of the Information Commissioner)
found that although a viability report submitted to justify demolition of
a listed building did fall within the exception for confidential
information, the public interest in disclosure was greater than in
upholding the exception - so the information had to be disclosed.
The Heygate masterplan is the largest planning application ever made in
the Borough and spans a period of 15 years. The development will affect
the lives of not just the existing and wider community, but also for many
future generations to come. Because of the highly contentious nature of
the application - failure to provide affordable housing, renewable energy
provision and key infrastructure - and its failure to meet basic planning
requirements as a result of viability issues, I feel that there couldn't
be a more compelling case for the public interest.
Myself and other members of the community are committed to pressing for
more openness and transparency in the negotiations concerning the
regeneration of the Elephant & Castle. We sincerely hope that you will
facilitate the disclosure of the requested information without the need
for further recourse to review panels or commissioning bodies.
I look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Kind regards,
Adrian Glasspool 
2012/8/9 Mark, Ian <[1][email address]>

Dear Mr Glasspool
 
My colleague Laura Wannop has forwarded your e-mail sent earlier today
to me as I am undertaking the internal review which you refer to.
 
I apologise for the delay which has occurred in this matter, however I
am now aiming to complete the review and provide you with a decision
within the next 5 working days.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Ian Mark
Senior Lawyer (Governance)
Corporate Team
Legal Services
Finance and Corporate Services
Southwark Council

Tel: 020 7525 3441
Fax: 020 7525 7675
Email [2][email address]

Postal address:
Southwark Council, 2nd Floor, PO Box 64529, London SE1P 5LX

Physical address:
Southwark Council, 160 Tooley Street, London SE1 2QH

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: A Glasspool [mailto:[3][email address]]
Sent: 09 August 2012 11:19
To: Wannop, Laura
Subject: Internal Review - FOI Request & EIR Request
Dear Laura,
I am writing to enquire as to the status of my FOI request for a
viability assessment which I submitted for internal review on 11 June
2012. Please update me with the status of the internal review at your
earliest convenience:
[4]http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/vi...
I am also writing to make a request for the same viability assessment
under the 2004 Environmental Information Regulations. Please confirm
receipt of this separate request.
I would also like to submit a further Freedom of Information request for
the following reports: 

* 1999 Consultation/Option Appraisal Masterplanning Study of the
Aylesbury estate regeneration, by [5]Levitt Bernstein Ltd.
* 2012 Report(s) by Grant Thornton on the financing risk analysis of
site 7(Wolverton 1-50) of the Aylesbury estate regeneration.  

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Kind regards,
Adrian Glasspool

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. mailto:[email address]
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/vi...
5. http://www.levittbernstein.co.uk//master...

hide quoted sections

Looking for an EU Authority?

You can request documents directly from EU Institutions at our sister site AskTheEU.org . Find out more .

AskTheEU.org