First-tier Tribunal requires council to give full disclosure of viability assessment on affordable housing in Greenwich

04 Feb 2015 | by Caroline Sweeney

The First-tier Tribunal has just given judgment in a case concerning the disclosure of commercially sensitive information under the Environmental Information Regulations 2006:  Royal Borough of Greenwich v ICO and Shane Brownie EA/2013/0162

A local residents’ group in Greenwich had asked the Council to disclose copies of a “viability assessment” on the basis of which the Council had permitted a private developer to vary the level of affordable housing at a major development site. The Council disclosed versions of the relevant documentation in which the key financial figures and assumptions underlying the assessment had been redacted, on the basis that the exemption in regulation 12(5)(e) for confidential commercial information prevented their disclosure.

The Information Commissioner overturned that decision, and the Council appealed to the First-tier Tribunal. In a decision which contains a detailed consideration of the factors that are relevant (and irrelevant) to the public interest balancing exercise in cases involving the disclosure of allegedly commercially sensitive environmental information, the Tribunal ruled in favour of the residents’ association that the redacted information should be disclosed in its entirety.

Please click here to view the judgment in Royal Borough of Greenwich v ICO and Shane Brownie

This case has been featured in an article in the Evening Standard

The successful City Peninsula Residents association were represented by Michael Armitage, having also been advised during the proceedings by Julianne Kerr Morrison (both on a pro bono basis). Gerry Facenna acted for the Information Commissioner.