Please provide me with any documentation (including council emails) relating to both Councillor Linda Golding and the plans for new housing in West Horndon outlined in the draft Local Development Plan 2015-2030.
Which landowners have proposed their land/ been approached by the council as a possible site for redevelopment and what are the locations of these sites? Please provide the names of the owners along with postal addresses and boundaries of the areas proposed)?
Please also provide me with the name of any property developer in discussion with Brentwood Borough Council over the proposed 1,500 homes in West Horndon.
Question 1: “Please provide me with any documentation (including council emails) relating to both Councillor Linda Golding and the plans for new housing in West Horndon outlined in the draft Local Development Plan 2015-2030”
Response: The Council holds the minutes of the Local Development Plan (LDP) Working Group of which Cllr Golding is a member. The Working Group is not a Committee of the Council and therefore its minutes are consequently not open for inspection pursuant to Section 100E of the Local Government Act 1972.
Despite this we have reviewed the relevant extracts of the LDP Working Group minutes, which relate to your request, and considered whether these can be released under your Freedom of Information request. As the requested extracts do not relate to commercially sensitive or confidential interests they can be released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Four LDP Member Working Group meetings took place to discuss the draft version of the emerging Draft Plan before it was taken to Ordinary Council on 10 July 2013. These meetings were held on 30 May, 11 June, 18 June, and 27 June 2013. At these meetings extracts of the emerging Draft Plan were discussed. Although areas of development were discussed, specific numbers (suggested Borough housing provision and individual sites) were not disclosed until the meeting of 27 June 2013. Cllr Linda Golding was not present at this meeting.
Meetings attended by Cllr Golding:
30 May 2013
11 June 2013
18 June 2013
LDP Member Working Group meetings that took place prior to the meeting on the 30 May 2013 did not consider the current iteration of the Local Plan taken forward to the Preferred Options consultation stage.
The information below has been supplied in response to your request and contains extracts from the LDP Member Working Group meetings attended by Cllr Golding that relate to policy in West Horndon, they are as follows:
30 May 2013
Core Policies: Jennifer Candler (Head of Planning) took Members through the Core Policies of the document and considered each one in turn. It was noted that throughout the document if there was an alternative approach available, this was stated in a grey box.
11 June 2013
Philip Drane (Senior Policy Planner) took Members through ‘Chapter 2: Spatial Strategy’, and considered the provision of employment land. In particular, the followings sites were considered:
• M25 Works Site (land at Codham Hall). M25 Junction 29
• Mountnessing Roundabout (former scrapyard), A12 Junction 12.
There was also potential in West Horndon, which would be considered later.
18 June 2013
Spatial Strategy: Jennifer Candler took Members through ‘Chapter 2 – Spatial Strategy’ which focused on managing change and shaping how the area develops in the future.
During consideration of S1: Spatial Strategy, Cllr Linda Golding noted West Horndon was listed as a ‘larger village’ and requested that this was changed, as it was not.
Jennifer Candler advised that S2 linked to S1 and, following a detailed study, the level of need was set out before Members. Jennifer Candler explained the figures fully to Members and advised that option 2 was not viable as it would have been found unsound. Members noted that the regional plan had now gone and the NPPF was the only plan/framework left. Questions were raised regarding the number of dwellings and it was noted that these would be staggered.
Core Polices – Housing Type and Mix: Philip Drane introduced the item to Members which considered five strategic sites, which were set out before Members under CP3: Strategic Sites.
CP4: West Horndon Opportunity Area, was considered and it was noted that the industrial area in the village was very outdated. Following this, Members also considered that the Wates Way industrial area in Brentwood North was not popular with residents.
Development Management Policies – Site specific polices and allocations & sustainable communities chapter: Jennifer Candler also took Members through the development management policies in relation to managing growth and economic prosperity.
Members considered each core policy in turn and no major issues were raised.
In regard to emails it is confirmed that the authority is likely to hold emails that may be relevant - but pursuant to Regulation 4 (3) and taking into account the costs and officers hours the Council reasonably expects to incur in:
determining whether it holds the information; locating the information, or a document containing it; retrieving the information, or a document containing it; and extracting the information from a document containing it.
It is considered that this request will take over 21 hours (3 days) of officer time charged at the standard rate of £25 per hour. Therefore, this will take beyond the time and cost provision set out in the Regulations.
It is also confirmed that the Planning section did receive legal advice from its in-house legal advisers in respect of this matter. However I have not included such legal advice on the grounds that such advice from a solicitor to a client is covered by legal professional privilege – Section 42 FOI Act 2000.
This is a qualified exemption under the 2000 Act and subject to a “public interest test” which I have applied by considering whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
The general public interest inherent in this exemption will always be strong due to the importance of the principle behind legal professional privilege, namely, safeguarding openness in all communications between client and lawyer to ensure access to full and frank legal advice, which in turn is fundamental to the administration of justice. I do not consider there is a sufficient contrary interest to discharge this balance in favour of maintaining client / lawyer confidentiality.
Question 2: “Which landowners have proposed their land/ been approached by the council as a possible site for redevelopment and what are the locations of these sites? Please provide the names of the owners along with postal addresses and boundaries of the areas proposed)?”
Response: Details of site owners for all sites assessed as part of preparing the Local Development Plan are already published on the Council’s website – please see ‘Preferred Options Supporting Document: Site Assessment’ at www.brentwood.gov.uk/localplan.
In terms of addresses, it is considered that this is personal data where it relates to individuals, we do not have their consent to release this data and on considering the public interest do not believe it favours releasing such personal data in the absence of such consent.
In particular “Personal Data” is defined in the Data Protection Act 1998 as follows: “data that relates to a living individual who can be identified.” Therefore personal names, addresses, emails, telephone numbers of third party living individuals that would lead to such identification are in our opinion personal data for which we have no consent to disclose as required under the 1998 Act. I have also carefully weighed whether, in the absence of such consent, the public interest favours disclosure of such third parties’ personal data and in all the circumstances I have concluded it does not, as it neither materially affects our response and was not within the legitimate expectations of the parties.
Question 3: “Please also provide me with the name of any property developer in discussion with Brentwood Borough Council over the proposed 1,500 homes in West Horndon”.
Response: Pre-application meetings are regarded as being covered by the exemptions concerning confidential information and / or commercial interests – section 43 of the FOI Act.
This exemption applies to the majority of situations where specific sites / specific companies are discussed at pre-application stages. We have applied the exemption here, which is also subject to a Public Interest test, in accordance with guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office. We have taken account of the following points as part of this:
Relevant Factors opposing release:
• The information is not widely known and there is no additional circulation or publication elsewhere.
• If disclosed to a competitor the content could be of real or significant harm to the owner.
• The likelihood of damage/prejudice being caused to relevant parties' commercial interests is deemed to be real and actual, because releasing the information could undermine the confidence of local investors by revealing the position of different parties involved.
The information may reveal the intentions of land owners - these intentions may be site specific and / or We have taken account of the following points as part of this:
• Company specific.
• If shared widely (under FOI), the information contained might give one party involved an advantage over others.
Relevant Factors in favour of release:
• There is some indication of a general public interest in the topic that might be affected by uses of different sites, and residents affected by planning issues within the borough.
Overall, taking all the circumstances into account, we are of the view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption overrides the public interest in disclosure.