A TOP York private school has explained why it is more than two months late in filing its annual accounts and report.

The Mount School has been issued with a ‘default notice’ by the Charity Commission for failing to provide information on its finances within 10 months of its financial year end.

The commission said on its website last week that the school’s documents were now 68 days overdue, adding: “All charities are reminded of their reporting requirements as their filing deadline approaches.

“If a charity misses its deadline, it receives a default notice and this message is displayed.”

The school’s director of business operations, Nick Higgins, said that on the advice of its auditors, the school had been delaying filing its annual report until after the sale of disused playing fields for a housing development had been completed.

He said this had taken longer than expected because City of York Council had not issued a planning decision notice until July.

Councillors approved the development in March despite fierce opposition from local residents, but The Mount Vale Community campaign group subsequently challenged the authority’s handling of the planning application.

Its chair, Murray Rose, warned recently that it might seek judicial review of the planning decision in the High Court, claiming there were "significant errors" in an officers’ report to councillors.

He said it had issued a ‘letter before action’ to the council to obtain more information, as had been advised by a barrister and as should be done before applying for judicial review, because courts would prefer alternative dispute resolution to be achieved.

The council said recently that it issued the decision notice on July 26, and objectors had six weeks to apply for judicial review, which meant Friday last week would be the final deadline for an application.

A council spokeswoman said the authority was not aware of any proceedings being lodged at the court.

The Press has asked the group if it will go ahead with applying but it had not responded by our deadline.

Last year’s report revealed that the school, which counts Dame Judi Dench and writer A S Byatt among its former pupils, lost more than a quarter of a million pounds in 2016/17 with further deficits expected in 2017/18 and the next year.

But it also revealed that the school was set to receive about £3 million for the playing field land.

It said that the playing field sale would allow the school to “restore our net asset position to positive, to begin building a cash reserve in line with our policy and provide funding to improve the school’s educational and facilities offer.”