Councils in the east of England feel forced to back plans for homes because they are “frightened” to reject them, a BBC investigation has found.
They are under pressure from voters to limit building development but planning guidelines make it hard for them do so.
Unless they have a five-year supply of housing land, developments that are refused can go through on appeal.
To fight an appeal “will cost a lot of money” and councils are “strapped for cash”, said consultant David Shaw.
The East region is one of the fastest growing parts of England and the government is keen to increase the rate of house building.
Mr Shaw, a Peterborough based town planning consultant, said: “Councils are very strapped for cash these days.
“If they are going to have to fight an appeal they know that will cost them a lot of money and they’re frightened of that. So they’re making decisions that they are really reluctant to make.”