Who knew that The Knowle had a reported developable value of £50 million pounds?

The request was partially successful.

Dear East Devon District Council,

Today's Western Morning News (12th March 2018) contains a report that EDDC have stated, via a FOI response (to a person whose identity is not given), that the 'developable value' of the site was £50 million. The report also states that The Knowle site was sold for £7.5 million to Pegasus Life. On the face of it this is a matter of great concern.

Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, and the Environmental Regulations , I wish to ask what information you hold about this valuation and also as to the persons who were made aware of this valuation of the property.

Will you also kindly provide me with details/copies (digital preferred) of any and all reports that contain any reference to this £50 million figure together with details of any and all councillors, officers and consultants and the like who were made aware. Please include details of when such individuals were so advised and by what means. Copies where available please.

Finally, please provide details of the party who produced the £50 million valuation together with a copy of his or her valuation .

There is no need to give any information about 'developable values' in general or how they may relate to this sale . At this stage I simply wish to know who knew and by what means and when they were told.

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

tim todd

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 101000804568 .

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Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

1 Attachment

Mr Todd

 

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

 

Today's Western Morning News (12th March 2018) contains a report that EDDC
have stated, via a FOI response (to a person whose identity is not given),
that the 'developable value' of the site was £50 million. The report also
states that The Knowle site was sold for £7.5 million to Pegasus Life.  On
the face of it this is a matter of great concern.

 

Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, and the Environmental
Regulations , I wish to ask what information you hold about this valuation
and also as to the persons who were made aware of this valuation of the
property.

Please find attached viability appraisal submitted by Pegasus which
contains the information you have requested. Please note that there has
been a small number of redactions made to remove information which is
commercially confidential. This information is withheld under s43(2) of
the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

Will you also  kindly provide me with details/copies (digital preferred)
of any and all reports that contain any reference to this £50 million
figure together with details of any and all councillors, officers and
consultants and the like who were made aware. Please include details of
when such individuals were so advised and by what means. Copies where
available please.

Please find attached viability appraisal.

 

Finally,  please provide details of the party who produced the £50 million
valuation together with  a copy of his or her valuation .

As advised above, the appraisal was submitted by Pegasus

 

 

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

 

You may also approach the Information Commissioner for advice at
[2]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 East Devon District Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of East Devon District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Who knew that The Knowle had a reported developable value of £50 million pounds?'

The provision of a partially redacted Knowle viability report does not address my FOI in any respect so there is no point in me raising issues one by one. I invite you to look again at the questions asked and consider whether anyone might regard your response as a valid answer. Not one single person has been named as knowing about this development value figure . Are you seriously suggesting nobody at EDDC knew?

Regardless of the outcome of the review I intend to bring this response to the attention of the Information Commissioner as a classic example of East Devon District Council showing total contempt for the Freedom of Information Act. Unfortunately that requires me to give you the opportunity to review your response to my request, and that is the purpose of this communication, to get the clock started. Any unreasonable delays, in the time generally accepted by the ICO for a request for a review, may lead to a complaint to the ICO without further notice.

The way in which the FOI request has been handled begs a number of questions about likely breaches by EDDC of it's own guidelines, breaches which may also be of interest to the Information Commissioner and which may form the basis of formal complaint under EDDC's complaints procedures. I therefore ask for details (names) of who has been involved in 'dealing 'with this request, together with the dates they had responsibility for dealing with it promptly in accordance with the Act and EDDC procedures. (have no wish to complain about any staff member acting under orders of so far nameless staff.)

The provision of 'The Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL Revised Viability Appraisal' document (06 October 2017), whilst not an answer to my FOI request, does raise one issue which, as you have brought the document into a reply, requires clarification. If you think the document is relevant, why have you provided a revised version and not their original? On the face of it, you should have provided the earlier document, or documents if there was more than one. Please explain why you provided what must surely be a later document when you were asked for information about when information became known? As you have brought the document into the FOI request, I believe that you must answer the questions raised by it, within the time limits of the review rather than treat this as a separate request. Please confirm that you wilol do so.

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

Yours faithfully,

Tim Todd

East Devon District Council

We have received your request for a review of FOI response 804568. 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 101000813505.

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

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East Devon District Council

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Henry Gordon Lennox, East Devon District Council

5 Attachments

Dear Mr Todd,

 

I am sorry that you feel dissatisfied with our response to your request
for information. You asked us for the following information:

 

Today's Western Morning News (12th March 2018) contains a report that EDDC
have stated, via a FOI response (to a person whose identity is not given),
that the 'developable value' of the site was £50 million. The report also
states that The Knowle site was sold for £7.5 million to Pegasus Life.  On
the face of it this is a matter of great concern.

 

Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, and the Environmental
Regulations , I wish to ask what information you hold about this valuation
and also as to the persons who were made aware of this valuation of the
property.

 

Will you also  kindly provide me with details/copies (digital preferred)
of any and all reports that contain any reference to this £50 million
figure together with details of any and all councillors, officers and
consultants and the like who were made aware. Please include details of
when such individuals were so advised and by what means. Copies where
available please.

 

Finally,  please provide details of the party who produced the £50 million
valuation together with  a copy of his or her valuation .

 

In response we provided you with a copy of the information held by the
council which falls within the scope of this request – namely a viability
appraisal which was submitted by Pegasus in connection with their recent
appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. This information included some
redactions to remove commercially confidential information, though your
request for an internal review does not query the application of this
exemption.

 

In your internal review request you state that this does not adequately
answer your request because it does not name the individuals who knew
about this development value figure. I am sorry that this was not clear
from the information we provided. As outlined, this report was produced by
GL Hearn on behalf of Pegasus Life and was prepared as part of their
planning appeal in support of their argument that the Knowle development
could not viably provide affordable housing. It was not produced by, or on
behalf of, the council. There is no specific information held in terms of
who has read this report and as you are aware we are not obliged to
create the information in order to satisfy your request. However I can
tell you that the appraisal would  have been seen by those involved in or
representing the planning authority at the appeal, For EDDC, these were
Chris Rose, Development Manager, Ed Freeman, Service Lead, Planning
Strategy and Development Management, Shirley Shaw, Planning Barrister,
Rachel Danemann, (former) Development, Enabling and Monitoring Officer.

 

Pegasus submitted a viability appraisal to the planning authority on 9^th
June 2017. Having received the appraisal, it was circulated to those
involved in the appeal and  it was provided to Plymouth City Council
between the 9^th and 26^th June in order for them to advise the planning
authority on what had been submitted by way of an independent assessment.
Pegasus and Plymouth City Council agreed a position on 17^th October and
the planning authority formally agreed the position in a statement of
common ground dated 15^th November 2017.  This is the reason why the
document includes the word “revised” as earlier drafts were produced. For
the sake of completeness, we now provide the earlier drafts which are held
although it should be noted that these have been superceded by the version
of the document you have been previously provided with. As with the final
version, commercially confidential information has been redacted – in fact
the same information which has been redacted in the final version.

 

Also, and again for the sake of completeness and to aid your
understanding, I have included the remainder of the report which included
the viability appraisal.

 

While you didn’t ask for an explanation on ‘developable values’ etc, and
as part of an FOI response we wouldn’t normally seek to provide
explanation, it seems to me that in this case it is important to clarify
for your benefit that the £50m gross development value (being the receipts
of sales of completed units) is distinctly different from land value. The
basic premise for appraisals such as this is that a developer works out
the gross development value (income from sales) and deducts from it their
outlay / costs (constructions costs, professional fees, finance costs,
etc) and their profit element and whatever is left is what is available to
pay for the land. As can be seen the ‘residualised land value’ is
significantly lower than the sum the Council, as landowner, is receiving
for the sale. The sale of the Knowle was carried out by way of open market
tender with a number of developers bidding and with final purchase price
being in line with red book valuations. The Council has therefore achieved
best value and there is therefore no merit (nor basis) for in some way
suggesting that the Council has undersold the site by way of comparison to
the stated £50m gross development value figure.

 

Your internal review asks for detail about the handling of your request
and I confirm that this was dealt with by our Information and Complaints
team in line with our Freedom of Information Policy with specific input
from Chris Rose, Development Manager. The officer who provided the
response to you, Kate Symington, handled this request. It was the
responsibility of the Information and Complaints team throughout and no
information is held regarding the dates / time spent on particular
activities by this team. I note that the initial response was provided
within the statutory 20 working day deadline.

 

I trust this answers your queries and provides you with the information
you were seeking. I note your intention to refer matters to the
Information Commissioner and contact information can be found here
[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 Henry Gordon Lennox,

I acknowledge receipt of your reply dated 4th May 2018 in which you finally address, in part, a significant part of my original request. It wasn't a case of it not being clear from the information provided, it was ommitted as was clear for all to see.

I note that you have not included the leader of the Council Cllr Diviani, the chairman Cllr Moulding, or the CEO Mark Williams or even his deputy Richard Cohen who has been the officer lead on the project, as being made aware of this report. I think many will find that quite incredible if it is the case. It is equally incredible that EDDC systems would not appear to be capable of confirming whether or not its most senior people are aware of important aspects of its most important projects. Your reply raises questions about accountability that may require further attention elsewhere.

However,or the sake of clarity in regard to this request, will you please confirm that the above mentioned officers and members did not see the report, or alternatively, that it is the case that East Devon District Council has no system in place to record whether or not any of its most senior officers and members have or have not seen or been consulted upon this most important document (in any of its versions)

Yours sincerely,

T Todd

tim cope left an annotation ()

Good Job TiM

Henry Gordon Lennox, East Devon District Council

Dear Mr Todd,

Your incredulity is misplaced and displays a lack of understanding about how a Council works. The viability appraisal was solely a planning related matter - simply Pegasus seeking to demonstrate to the planning authority, and if necessary the Planning Inspector, that their scheme could not viably provide affordable housing if found to be a C3 use - as distinct from the landowner function which is progressing the relocation project. The contractual position between Pegasus and the Council (as landowner) in respect of the base land value is clear and is not affected by the viability appraisal - they are entirely separate. So of itself the viability appraisal has no bearing on the base capital receipt the Council is contracted to receive nor to the relocation project generally. I have already explained the relevance (or not) of the £50m figure to you in my internal review response.

Therefore there was no reason for any of those you have named to see or be aware of the content of the viability appraisal. That said, I can confirm, having checked, that neither Cllr Moulding nor Councillor Diviani saw the viability appraisal or were made aware of its content. Were they aware that Pegasus had submitted a viability appraisal - probably - but that information will not be recorded by the Council nor how they came to know - bearing in mind it became public knowledge as part of the appeal anyway. Mark Williams was aware that Pegasus had submitted a viability appraisal in connection with his line management role of senior staff but did not see it nor was aware of the specific content of it. Richard Cohen was aware that Pegasus were going to / did submit a viability appraisal as part of the appeal process as Pegasus informed the landowner of this. However, neither Mr Williams nor Mr Cohen have seen the viability appraisal and they weren't aware of the specific content of it either.

Please understand that I was not obliged to provide the above answer / explanation for you as it does not fall within the scope of your request for information. However I did so to give complete clarity to the matter and to help clear up any misunderstanding there may be for you and the 'many' you refer to.

Yours sincerely,

HENRY GORDON LENNOX

Strategic Lead (Governance and Licensing) and Monitoring Officer
East Devon District Council
Tel: 01395 517401
Ext: 2601
Email: [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear Henry Gordon Lennox,

Thank you for the clarification of your earlier reply.

Yours sincerely,

tim todd

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