MORE than £1.25 million has been spent on planning appeals by Stratford District Council in the past two years.
The authority has stumped up nearly £853,000 to cover appeal costs since March 2012, while some £323,000 has been awarded to developers and other appellants.
The cost of one outstanding appeal for a residential development at Milestone Road is currently being disputed but will be a minimum of £87,000 – bringing the council’s total costs to almost £1,263,000.
The figure was revealed at a full council meeting on Monday (October 20) when Lib Dem councillor Kate Rolfe asked how much the appeals total had tallied up to over the past 24 months.
Speaking afterwards she admitted she was not expecting the the figure to be so high.
Coun Rolfe told The Observer: “It is a lot of money and I have concerns the amount is only going to grow until we have a Core Strategy in place with all the developments and applications being submitted at the moment.”
And leader of the opposition, Lib Dem Coun Richard Cheney was quick to back Coun Rolfe.
He said: “I think £1.2 million is a very high figure and the money could definitely be put to better use elsewhere.
“The Conservatives have continually delayed the Core Strategy and through that delay we are incurring greater appeal costs and unwanted developments. There is an urgent need to get this Core Strategy in place as soon as possible.”
The council this week confirmed the amount related to 31 separate appeals and the costs were covered primarily by income from developer’s planning application fees and by the planning service budget.
The largest appeal cost – at just over £140,000 – was for the so-called Starbold Wind Farm on land between Bishops Itchington, Gaydon and Knightcote.
Stratford District Council initially refused planning permission early last year but developers Broadview Energy Ltd lodged an appeal, which resulted in a ten day public inquiry in September 2013.
Their appeal was dismissed earlier this month by the Secretary of State who agreed with the original council decision and the recommendations of a Government Inspector that the application would ruin views from Burton Dassett Hills Country Park.
Meanwhile more than ten percent of the total – just over £145,000 – was awarded to CALA Homes in costs following a successful appeal for their development of the old Norgren site in Shipston.
The government’s Planning Inspector overturned Stratford District Council’s refusal for 112 homes at the site on Campden Road in July 2013.
Council leader Chris Saint this week announced a special sub-committee of the Cabinet would be set up to look at expenditure on planning appeals.
But when asked whether the figure of £1.2 million was excessively high, a district council spokeswoman said they did not to comment.