COUNCIL chiefs have defended paying out over £2million defending planning appeals.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request from London-based property consultancy Daniel Watney to local authorities throughout the UK found that nearly £12 million had been paid out over the last six years by 178 of the 217 councils that responded.
Stratford District Council (SDC) paid out the the fourth highest amount at £557,818, behind Cornwall County Council, Derby City Council and Halton Borough Council.
But SDC’s own figures shows the authority actually paid out over £633,000 in costs awarded against it since 2012. The total figure, including payments to planning and legal consultants over the period, was more than £2million.
Council leader Christ Saint told the Observer: “Without commenting on individual cases, the council has vigorously defended its decisions.
“An appeal is only undertaken where there has been a refusal of planning permission. This is the price of democracy on behalf of our many communities that have rightly expected this council to resist some proposals and these communities have contributed greatly to securing many successes in this process.
“All of the costs which this council has incurred in defending planning decisions have been funded by the planning fees received from developers and not from the Council Tax collected from our residents.
“Stratford District Council is currently receiving the second highest number of planning applications in the country. This not only increases the risk of needing to fight appeals against refusal, but increases the amount received in fees.”