Saturday, 25 March 2017

Council ordered to publish full dog track report

Waltham Forest Council has been ordered to publish a viability assessment relating to London & Quadrant’s plans to redevelop a former dog track.

Campaign group Save Our Stow wants dog racing to be re-introduced to the Walthamstow Stadium site, but L&Q has been granted permission to build 294 homes on the site. This is subject to approval by the mayor.

SOS has long claimed L&Q’s plans are not viable and will result in a £26 million loss. The group submitted a Freedom of Information request to obtain L&Q’s viability assessment, but the council only released a heavily redacted version, citing commercial confidentiality. Sections entitled ‘cost assumptions’ and ‘income analysis’ were blacked out.

The Information Commissioner’s Office on 27 September ruled that an unredacted version of the viability assessment should be released by the authority.

The ruling said: ‘The council has failed to demonstrate that the withheld information engages the exceptions relating to the course of justice and the confidentiality of commercial and industrial information.’

The council has decided not to appeal and must supply the information to SOS within 35 days.

The council in May slashed L&Q’s affordable housing contribution for the development to just 60 homes, fewer than a council guideline that 50 per cent of homes should be affordable.

A council report said the 60-home affordable contribution, which includes 35 for shared ownership, is the maximum that can be achieved having regard to ‘considerations and costs’. An L&Q spokesperson said the affordable housing agreement reflects its ‘viability assessment’.

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