MORE than a quarter of a million pounds has been spent on planning appeals across the Cotswolds in the last two years.
The revelation was made by Cotswold District Council’s planning department following a question made by Cllr John Birch at a recent meeting in which he said “it would be very helpful” to be told of the costs required to obtain an appeal decision.
A CDC planning officer confirmed that there had been 11 planning appeals in the Cotswold district during 2012 and 2013 with the total cost amounting to £257,368.
The six-figure sum takes into account costs awarded against CDC and the fee of a judicial review but does not include paying for the time of the council’s planning officers.
A spokesman for CDC said that the council had anticipated an increase in planning appeals following the government’s introduction of National Planning Policy Framework in 2012.
“Parts of the Cotswold district have been prime targets for developers, which explain why some communities that have seen limited growth in the past have been put under so much pressure recently.
“Our planning committee has supported local communities in their objections to unwanted developments, particularly within the AONB.”
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Liberal Democrat leader on CDC, criticised the council’s habit of appealing against large-scale developments in the district.
He said: “The council has spent this amount of taxpayers’ money on defending appeals by developers, most of which are being lost because of the lack of a five year housing supply and an up to date Local Plan. It is an intolerable situation.”
In recognition of an increase in planning appeals, CDC, which normally budgets £75,000 a year for appeals, put aside a one-off sum of £200,000 to meet the necessary costs.
“To date approximately £100,000 of this provision has been used. It is also worth noting that the accompanying increase in planning applications had resulted in the council receiving considerably more income from this source than usual, an increase of about £300,000,” a spokesman said.
Last week the Standard broke the news that CDC was in “real danger” of being placed into special measures in light of its recent record of failed planning appeals.
A council placed into special measures would lose its right to vote on planning decisions with developers being able to submit applications directly to the Planning Inspectorate.
Cllr Nick Parsons said special measures could be avoided if the planning committee only rejected applications when there is a valid reason for doing so.