LEGAL advice over a controversial planning site which has cost tens of thousands of pounds must be made public, campaigners have urged.

South Oxfordshire District Council has spent at least £80,000 on legal advice on planning over the last three years.

But it has refused to say which barrister gave advice on the proposal for Chalgrove Airfield, which is still contained in the authority’s local plan.

The plan is a blueprint for where the council wants to build housing until 2031, but it was rejected by councillors on March 27.

Whether or not the airfield will be backed up by a reserve site or struck from the local plan entirely will be decided over the next few weeks.

Paul Boone, the chairman of the Chalgrove Airfield Action Group, said: “Obviously we would like to see it. It’s paid for by the public so it should be in the public domain.

“I can understand why [the council] is being cautious because if the legal advice is that the Chalgrove Airfield was of significant risk and they carried on regardless that would be embarrassing.”

The council has declared all spending over £250 since October 2016.

In documents freely available on its website, it says it has paid £11,850 to Christopher Katkowski QC, Ranjit Bhose QC £12,712.50 and Suzanne Ornsby QC £50,825 over recent years.

But it will not say whether one of the three planning experts gave it advice over Chalgrove Airfield.

The release of the information is backed by the current council leader, John Cotton, but has been blocked by the authority’s chief executive, Mark Stone.

Last week Mr Cotton announced he will resign his post once the Conservative Party has chosen a successor at a private party meeting on April 12. They will then be confirmed at a council meeting on April 19.

When the local plan was rejected, independent councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, referred to the legal advice and said it was ‘peppered’ with comments which pointed to the fact that choosing to include the airfield site in the local plan was of ‘considerable risk’ and ‘risk’.

If the council scraps building at Chalgrove Airfield, it could prompt it to look at building south of Oxford at Grenoble Road – at a site favoured by Oxford City Council – or at the 'new town' site of Harrington, off the M40 near Wheatley.

David Turner, Lib Dem councillor for Chalgrove, said he supports the airfield plan being rejected and building at alternative sites closer to Oxford such as Grenoble Road near the Kassam Stadium.