A COUNCIL has had to pay out nearly £80,000 in costs after losing 20 planning application appeals since 2014, it has emerged.

The news came to light when Stockton Borough Council lost an appeal after the planning committee refused to permission to allow the building of 45 houses on land south of Cayton Drive in Thornaby.

One reason the council loses so many planning appeals at the Planning Inspectorate because it can not demonstrate it can supply enough houses for the projected population of the borough over the next five years.

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The planning committee rejected the Thornaby house building development was because it was out of character with the area, but that was rejected.

The Government inspector also said the council's protection of 'green wedge,' land, often by the River Tees, was not enough to prevent house building when it goes against the aims of the authority's own wider strategy for the area.

Of the £79,784 paid out so far, £64,528 was for one single case, involving Tiviot Way Investments who wanted to build 550 homes in Ingleby Barwick. That ended up in the High Court which is why costs were so high.

Of the 20 lost cases, the costs of two have yet to be determined so the overall figure will eventually be higher.

Bob Cook, leader of Stockton Borough Council, said local people's views were being ignored by the Government inspector.

He said: "At a time when the Government is trumpeting its plans to devolve more and more powers to local authorities, here we are once again on the receiving end of a Government planning inspector overturning a local planning decision reflecting local residents’ views.

“We have always maintained that planning decisions are best made locally and cases like this offer a perfect example of why that is a good idea.”