FOI request (FOI226314)
Viability statements High Breezes
Requested Tue 21 November 2017
Responded Tue 21 November 2017
To be considered under Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)
The committee report for this application HS/FA/13/337 refers to a viability statement for provision of affordable housing:
"A number of development contributions are required for a development of this size. These include affordable housing, contributions towards improvement of offsite play facilities and a contribution towards public art. During the pre-application discussions the applicant flagged up that there would be development viability issues with this site and that no contributions would be able to be provided. The viability report submitted with the application states the same. The applicant's viability information was independently assessed on behalf of the Council and the outcome of this was there would be some money available towards development contributions. It was put to the applicant that a financial contribution could be made towards the provision of off site affordable housing in the Borough. The applicant has accepted this contribution."
The viability statement is part of the planning application but is not available on the Planning web site.
An affordable housing contribution of 50,000 pounds was made on a development with an estimated Open Market Value of 15 million pounds.
Please be aware that there have been recent rulings allowing release of viability statements.
A similar request to obtain details of a viability study on the Heygate development has been reviewed by tribunal where it was decided that such information can be released. Please see http://35percent.org/heygate-foi-eir-tribunal/
The Heygate judgement can be seen at http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DBFiles/Decision/i1279/London%20Borough%20of%20Southwark%20EA.2013.0162%20(09.05.14).pdf
A similar request to obtain details of a viability study on the Knight Dragon development has been reviewed where it was decided that such information can be released. Please see http://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=21664:tribunal-tells-council-to-disclose-redactions-from-housing-viability-assessment&catid=1:latest-stories
The Knight Dragon judgement can be seen at https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/decision-notices/2014/977128/fer_0524770.pdf
Could you please provide me with a copy of the viability statement used to determine the affordable housing contribution of 50,000 pounds. Please consider this request under both the FOI and EIR 2004 regulations.
NOTICE OF REFUSAL
Under Environmental Information Regulations the information requested above exempt under Section 12(5)(e) 'Confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest'
We have considered the following:
- Is the information commercial or industrial
- Is the information subject to confidentiality provided by law
- Is the confidentiality protecting a legitimate economic interest
- Would disclosure adversely affect the confidentiality
Section 12(5)(e) is subject to a public interest test. This means that a public authority can refuse to disclose information under these exceptions if in all the circumstances of the case the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Factors for disclosure:
1. Transparency and accountability
Factors against disclosure:
1. The viability includes cost/m2, excluding abnormal items, for dwellings that was based on The Park Lane Groups own construction costs that were arrived at from historic internal cost information that is specific to The Park Lane Group rather than generic m2 rates taken from BCIS data.
2. The viability included detailed costs for a number of site specific abnormal items. These abnormal items were presented in the form of detailed measures and Bills Of Quantities that were costed using Park Lane Groups own historic rates that they have from previous projects and such rates have been secured through their supply chain of sub-contractors and material suppliers on previous developments/sites.
3. As part of the post submission discussions with the Council and their appointed consultant The Park Lane Group provided detailed breakdowns of the costs in relation to their Professional Fees and more importantly their Sales costs.
4. Should the viability be made available to our competitors, then that information would cause The Park Lane Group harm when tendering/bidding for future sites. Our competitors would have an unfair advantage in forming an opinion on how The Park Lane Group would look to bid on future development sites and consequently this would have a harmful effect on the future business of The Park Lane Group.
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