A third party applied for permission to judicially review the grant of planning permission for 28 houses, contrary to development plan policies. The planning authority accepted that the residential development was acceptable to "enable" the construction of a national football centre on an adjoining site. The issue was the extent to which an authority can withhold relevant financial information from the committee and objectors on the basis of commercial confidentiality.

The developer provided a report to the authority explaining that the residential development filled the funding gap for the football centre, but required the information remain confidential. The authority commissioned its own independent report.

The claimant stated that he was substantially prejudiced. He had no access to the financial information.

The court rejected the argument and refused permission for a review. It concluded that the public interest would be harmed if local authorities were unable to examine matters in a confidential manner with applicants for planning permission.

R (on the application of English) v East Staffordshire Borough Council [2010] EWHC 2744

Judicial review - promptness

The English case above also has some interesting comments about the time for bringing claims for judicial review. The rules require that a claim is brought "promptly and in any event no later than three months after the ground to make the claim arose".

The permission in English was granted on 24 June 2010. Proceedings were issued on 26 August 2010 (nine weeks later), although the documents had been drafted five weeks earlier. The claimant stated that he wanted to obtain insurance to protect himself from costs liabilities and that could only be done after the papers were drafted.

The court held that "promptness" depends on the facts of each case. The importance of acting promptly applies with particular force in relation to challenges against the grant of planning permission. This is because once a developer has obtained permission he will want to implement it without delay. There is no "six week rule" as there is in the case of a challenge to a decision on an appeal to the secretary of state, but that time period is not entirely irrelevant in deciding whether a claim has been brought promptly.