A CONTROVERSIAL Government decision to undermine Cotswold District Council by allowing 300 homes to be built in Tetbury despite fierce local opposition could cost local taxpayers at least £120,000 if it is challenged.

CDC had kicked out the plans for 250 homes on Highfield Farm and a further 39 off Berrells Road. But at a subsequent planning appeal in February the Government overruled CDC saying the authority was failing to build enough new homes in the district.

The decision prompted CDC to seek a judicial review in March to challenge the Government decision.

This week members of Tetbury Town Council were told the authority was not seeking local opinion on whether it should continue to fight the plans or withdraw its challenge.

Speaking at a town council meeting on Monday night, Cllr Stephen Hirst, who sits on both councils, said CDC’s legal advisers believed the challenge had only a 50:50 chance of success at best.

The packed meeting also heard CDC could be liable to pay up to £65,000 if the challenge fails, and that Berrells Road applicant Hannick Homes was also claiming £63,000 from CDC for the delay.

If it goes ahead, the judicial review will be heard in Birmingham next month. It was originally scheduled for next February.

A spokesman for CDC said the authority had lodged the challenge because it had a limited time in which to do so.

He said CDC cabinet would now need to decide whether to allocate money to continue fighting the challenge before further costs are incurred which is why opinion was being sought in Tetbury.

"CDC is keeping the whole issue under review to ensure that the planning implications and financial cost of the action remain in the best interests of Cotswold residents and taxpayers," he added.

Lynda Morgan of campaigning group Stop Tetbury’s Excessive Planning Schemes said the group felt the legal challenge was crucial.

"This joint case will set the precedent for the Cotswolds as a whole and then allow many other sites to go forward using Tetbury as a case study," she said.

Tetbury town councillor Les Brown said: "It is clear that the people of Tetbury do not want this development."

Town councillors agreed to make it clear to CDC that it remained opposed to the plans.