PLANNING applications can be some of the most contentious issues that a council has to deal with.

Many applications go through without any discussion or objection and people can extend and improve their homes or businesses with little fuss or interference.

But when the plans involve contentious issues, such as building on greenfield sites or altering the character of an area, things can get heated.

Applications are decided by the elected members of the planning committee, based on advice from planning officers, representations from those affected, and from their own experience and expertise.

Their decisions can be appealed against, especially if planners have gone against the recommendation of officers.

In the past three years, Bolton Council has spent £130,000 defending its decisions ­— and in most cases, the authority has lost its battle.

Almost half of that figure has been spent on appeals against the Around half of this money has been spent fighting the Bowlands Hey and Lee Hall developments in Westhoughton.

These challenges are expensive and time-consuming, but they are a key part of the democratic process.

The council would rather be spending money in other areas, but it is worth fighting for the beliefs and principles held by residents and elected officials.