And yet again the council’s current lack of a new local plan and its failure to demonstrate that it has a five-year supply of housing land have been cited as reasons for overturning the authority’s decisions.

However, in responding to this latest blow to the council, Cllr Saint told the Herald: “The process of putting new core strategies in place is dogged by red tape and the need for us to pay for advice and evidence.

“I find it tedious that ministers make it too easy for developers to seek outline planning permission and so bypass putting these sites first into the five-year land supply where any proposals would undergo considerably more scrutiny than they are getting.”

Cllr Saint said: “Stratford District Council is not alone in working extremely hard to deal with those issues that could give more weight to emerging planning policies.

“We are close to publishing our revised submission draft core strategy that can undergo the required tests of soundness in a public examination, and provide the base five-year land supply.”

He added: “Though it is no defence, there are only 47 out of a target of 326 councils that have an adopted core strategy compliant with the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework]. It is hard work.”

However, while no-one challenges these figures, the Liberal Democrat opposition on the district council say that Stratford is in fact among the least advanced of the 279 councils that are still formulating their local plans.

The Allimore Lane ruling is a text book example of how the much-vaunted policy of localism—now enshrined in an Act of that very name—is not working.

Both housing schemes had faced fierce opposition from local residents and had been comprehensively rejected by local councillors sitting on a planning committee.

But with local authorities now facing huge costs if they lose an appeal—the most dramatic for Stratford came recently in Shipston—the district council decided not to defend its own refusal of the Allimore Lane proposals.

As a result the Eclipse Road Residents’ Association, the protest group fighting the plans, was left hugely vulnerable and potentially liable to huge costs if it had remained a formal objector. As a result—and with great reluctance and regret—it withdrew its formal status as an objector.

The current planning process has therefore revealed a disturbing fact – that you can only fight a scheme if you can afford it, which is hardly in line with localism and democracy.