I would like to know a full list of Vacant Properties held by your organisation and any of its subsidiaries.
As at the date of this FOI response Devon County Council has 25 vacant properties.
Of the 25 sites;
2 are being advertised on the market for sale or lease
9 are being prepared for marketing or subject to legal clarification
6 are “sale agreed”
1 is being held pending transfer to another public body
1 is being held pending interest from community groups and/or consultation
3 are being held for potential Education use
3 sites are required for use with a highways scheme
With regard to the remaining vacant properties the Council feels that we are unable to release information that would enable our vacant properties (those not currently being marketed) to be identified. The reason for this is that we believe that if this information were disclosed into the wider public domain, this would be likely to have the effect of exposing those properties to a greater risk of being subject to crimes such as vandalism and squatting. Therefore, we consider this information is exempt under Section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act (prejudice the prevention or detection of crime).
Devon County Council’s position on this matter has been supported by the Courts in the case of Voya’s v Information Commissioner and London Borough of Camden (EA/2011/0007). In this case the court also concluded that the London Borough of Camden were not obliged to supply details of vacant properties, as the information was exempt under Section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act.
Devon County Council recognises that there is a public interest in openness and transparency. However, the council believes that there is a strong public interest in avoiding circumstances which might lead to Council owned properties being exposed to a greater risk of being subjected to crime. We also feel that there is a strong public interest in protecting properties and therefore avoiding the considerable public expense that would be incurred dealing with crime associated with our empty properties. For these reasons the Council considers that the balance of public interest weighs in favour of withholding this information from disclosure.
If possible their market value for sale or to let, whether they would be considered for a community asset transfer, if not then whether they are for sale or to let. In a clear and easy to read format.
Devon County Council do not have any vacant properties available for let.
The two Council sites currently being marketed are Haldon View (Exeter) and Highbridge House (Torrington). Both sites are being marketed by our Agents, NPS SW Ltd and details are available from that organisation. Additionally, the sites are being advertised on the RightMove web site;
Both sites being marketed are inviting offers rather than being at an agreed price.
Devon County Council welcomes interest in Community Asset Transfers from eligible organisations and one of the vacant properties is currently progressing through this process.
It would be supportive if the property is for sale or to let that it is listed on here too:
and that you inform us of this intention or such listing in the request.
Devon County Council are preparing to add a number of properties to the Government Property Finder, ePIMS system.