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A new community group called the Oval Chalet Preservation Society is being set up to establish support for public disclosure and knowledge of the secret sale of the land between the Green’s Tile Warehouse on Sea Street Whitstable, and in front of Reeves Beach. It is their belief that this land should remain in the public domain for use by the community and people of Whitstable.

Below is the request for information compiled and sent to the Canterbury Council Freedom of Information Data Protection Team to insure they receive the Council’s documentation on the property and the disclosure of what has taken place that may have removed this vital space from the public domain. Here is the information compiled and sent today, 12 May 2015. Updates with Council responses and meeting dates to continue their efforts to protect this land from private commercial gain will be provided.

The Formal Request Reads as Follows:
I am a member of the Oval Chalet Preservation Society, a community group formed to insure the continued public use of the land known as the Oval Chalet (which is located behind the old Greens Tile Warehouse on Sea Street and along the beach front at Reeves Beach.)
By agreement of the Society I am exercising of my rights under the Freedom of Information Act and I am requesting the following information:
1. Any information, formal and informal records held by Canterbury City Council relating to the history and decisions taken by CCC pertaining to use of the site referred to in the report to the City Council’s Executive dated 11 December 2014 as The Oval (former skating rink) rear of the Tile Warehouse, Sea Street, Whitstable, including any relevant records of the former Whitstable Urban District Council held by CCC
2. Details of the history of any covenants attached to the land between 1899 to 2015 insofar as this information is held by CCC including any archived files from Whitstable Urban District Council held by the City Council
3. The rationale for the decision of the Executive to consider a report on the proposed sale of this site in closed session on 11 December 2014; in particular why it was considered that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information, given the significance of this site to the local community in Whitstable and our understanding that the intention of the land owners who transferred the freehold to the local authority was that the site should be used for community benefit rather than disposed of for commercial gain.
4. A copy of the exempt report considered by the City Council’s Executive on 11 December 2014 given that it is now a matter of public record that the Council has lodged notice with the Land Registry of a conditional contract for sale to Sea Street Developments Limited – we understand that any details pertaining to the financial or business affairs of the Council and Sea Street Developments Ltd may need to be redacted ( i.e. the sale price and estimated land value)but we wish to see the options appraisal and officer advice on which the Executive based its decision to agree a sale to Sea Street Developments Ltd rather than to sell the freehold on the open market or explore alternatives such as development of this site by the Council for public use. In other words all parts of the report that can be released without disclosing “information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person”. We are interested in understanding the weight given to achievement of a substantial capital receipt versus the weight given to other less financially advantageous options which may be of more community value.
5. An outline of who was consulted about the options ahead of the Executive decision to dispose of the site to Sea Street Developments Ltd
6. A copy of paragraphs 7 and 11 of the Council’s procedures for land disposal
7. Any reports and records of discussions and meetings between CCC officers, CCC Officers/Councillors and potential developers and CCC officers and Councillors since 2002 to discuss the current and future use of this piece of land, which until recently was being used as a boat park, and any consultation undertaken with Whitstable residents via the Whitstable Area Committee or otherwise.
2014 given that it is now a matter of public record that the Council has lodged notice with the Land Registry of a conditional contract for sale to Sea Street Developments Limited – we understand that any details pertaining to the financial or business affairs of the Council and Sea Street Developments Ltd may need to be redacted ( i.e. the sale price and estimated land value)but we wish to see the options appraisal and officer advice on which the Executive based its decision to agree a sale to Sea Street Developments Ltd rather than to sell the freehold on the open market or explore alternatives such as development of this site by the Council for public use – in other words all parts of the report that can be released without disclosing “information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person” . We are interested in understanding the weight given to achievement of a substantial capital receipt versus the weight given to other less financially advantageous options which may be of more community value .
5. An outline of who was consulted about the options ahead of the Executive decision to dispose of the site to Sea Street Developments Ltd
6. A copy of paragraphs 7 and 11 of the Council’s procedures for land disposal
7. Any reports and records of discussions and meetings between CCC officers, CCC Officers/Councillors and potential developers and CCC officers and Councillors since 2002 to discuss the current and future use of this piece of land, which until recently was being used as a boat park, and any consultation undertaken with Whitstable residents via the Whitstable Area Committee or otherwise.
8. Information about the specific development envisaged for this site and the likely timetable for development of the land, any conditions and covenants to be attached to the sale and the timescales for the planning process – the record of the 4 December 2014 Overview Committee was advised that a planning application was expected shortly but that the Developer’s funders wanted more certainty about the sale of the land at that point before progressing to planning application stage.
9. Advice from your Monitoring Officer on the perception created by selling this land to a particular developer without seeking other bids on the open market or having an open dialogue with the community about options that the Council has pre-determined the outcome of the planning process in favour of a particular scheme.
10. Advice about the process and contact officer for seeking to have this site listed as an asset of community value under section 87 of the Localism Act 2011.
Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.
Please know that I am copying the contents of this request to our full list of community supporters who want to preserve the Oval Chalet for public and community use.[/wr_text][wr_image el_title=”Oval Chalet Development” image_file=”http://www.whitstablechamber.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/OvalSkating1.jpg” image_file_button=”” image_size_wrapper=”” image_size=”large” image_alt=”Oval Chalet Development” link_type=”no_link” image_container_style=”no-styling” image_alignment=”inherit” image_margin_top=”” image_margin_left=”” image_margin_bottom=”” image_margin_right=”” appearing_animation=”0″ css_suffix=”” id_wrapper=”” disabled_el=”no” wrapper_padding_top=”0″ wrapper_padding_left=”0″ wrapper_padding_bottom=”0″ wrapper_padding_right=”0″ wrapper_bg_color=”” wrapper_bg_opacity_slider=”” wrapper_bg_opacity=”100″ wrapper_border_top=”0″ wrapper_border_left=”0″ wrapper_border_bottom=”0″ wrapper_border_right=”0″ wrapper_border_style=”solid” wrapper_border_color=”” wrapper_rounded_topleft=”0″ wrapper_rounded_topright=”0″ wrapper_rounded_bottomleft=”0″ wrapper_rounded_bottomright=”0″ responsive_hide=”no” ][/wr_image][/wr_column][/wr_row]