Cotswold District Council has defended spending more than £30,000 on legal advice for two meetings on a controversial development.

Figures revealed by the authority show Douglas Edwards QC was paid £30,865 for the meetings which took place between September 2017 and January 2018 to provide legal support for the approval of 2,350 homes outside Cirencester.

The scheme will be built on land owned by Lord Bathurst of Cirencester, and was granted by a full council meeting in January this year.

Edwards was also paid to see if some councillors had a conflict of interest as members of the private, Tory dining club with Lord Bathurst.

The district council employed the QC for two full council meetings, and he also provided on-going services from September 2017 to January this year.

Two payments were made to the QC,£15,665 in November £15,200 in April.

A spokesman for Cotswold District Council said: “We can confirm that Mr Douglas Edwards QC (counsel) was engaged to provide legal advice to Cotswold District Council prior to and during full council meetings held in September 2017 and January 2018, and other informal meetings, to consider a planning application for development at Chesterton Farm.

“Additionally, he provided ongoing legal services to the council from September 2017 until January 2018.

“Council officers took the conscious decision to instruct counsel given the complex and strategic nature of such a major application, its impact on the District, and its relationship with the Local Plan.

“The decision to instruct counsel was not due to a lack of staff capacity – indeed, our legal team provided instructions for Mr Edwards.

“The issues surrounding the Bull Club and other member interests were more incidental, but Mr Edwards again provided legal advice which concluded that there was no conflict of interest and that members should be allowed to participate.”