The council is refusing and overturning too many major developments in Epsom and Ewell, government inspectors have found.

If Epsom and Ewell Borough Council continues to fail in meeting government criteria its planning committee could be stripped of its power to determine applications, it has been warned.

Developers would instead be able to make applications directly to the government’s Planning Inspectorate.

The council’s planning applications process is being reviewed after the number of major developments which it refused planning permission by the council, but were subsequently approved by the Planning Inspectorate, exceeded a threshold set by the government.

In the last two years, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council (EEBC) received 29 major planning applications.

Four of these were refused for a variety of reasons – including “being unsuitable” for the borough. These rejections were subsequently overturned on appeal – this is just below 14 per cent of the total number of those refused and exceeds the government threshold of 10 per cent.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) defines ‘major applications’ as developments of 10 dwellings or more, housing sites of more than 0.5 hectares, other development sites of more than one hectare, or buildings of 1,000 square metres or more, a council spokeswoman advised.

Conservative Councillor Tina Mountain, who sits on the council’s planning committee said government targets of building 8,000 new homes in the borough are “completely unrealistic”, and that the borough’s green belt land and conservation areas need to be protected.

“We should work with the government to ensure that we get the right level of new provision in the area,” she said.

“We can recognise where there are areas for potential development in Epsom without going into the green belt and without ruining our conservation areas.

“We should do this and then tell the government this is the best we can do.”

She added: “We don’t turn down anything lightly.

“There need to be extremely good grounds as to why we can turn something down.”

Residents’ Association councillor Humphrey Reynolds, chairman of the planning committee, said: “Ensuring development appropriate for our borough is what this committee endeavours to deliver.

“Residents regularly complain that we allow too many developments and now we are criticised for not allowing enough!

“The council and the committee will actively engage in this review, I am sure we can ensure that our planning regime is proportionate, efficient and responsive both to the needs of developers and to residents.”

The outcome of the review and recommendations will be reported to the planning committee in September.