A decision to reject a development of 300 homes in Pagham could end up costing Arun District Council tens of thousands of pounds.
In January, the council turned down the application for land north of Hook Lane, despite having approved two other schemes in the village.
The applicant has now launched an appeal and the council’s cabinet has asked for £25,000 to be put aside to defend that appeal and hire consultants.
At a meeting on Monday evening (June 3), cabinet members were warned that the cost would be a lot more if the appeal was successful.
The meeting was told that the site in question was included in the Local Plan as a place for housing, but members of the development control committee had gone against officers’ advice, rejecting the application because of highway and safety concerns.
No objections had been raised by West Sussex County Council’s highways team.
It was this point which prompted concern from some about the working relationship between the county and district.
Martin Lury (Lib Dem, Bersted), cabinet member for planning, said the two needed to work closer, describing the relationship as ‘critical’.
Mr Lury added: “I do believe that we need to work much more closely with the highway officers so we get a bit more support when we find highway issues.
“Often county just say there’s not an issue – well clearly there is.”
Daniel Purchese (Lib Dem, Beach) agreed, adding: “A number of us have seen at a very small parochial level the problem with the highways department not backing us up.
“We have a real problem where county highways don’t take into consideration real issues that Arun have raised, that are genuine.”
Mr Purchese said he would raise the issue again at this Friday’s meeting of the full county council, in Chichester.
The planning appeal will take the form of a public inquiry in October.