A Suffolk MP says people should be able to lodge appeals against large-scale developments that have planning approval in order to preserve market towns.

And Dr Dan Poulter, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP, added that he believes central government should offer to help councils with legal costs to give them the courage to say no to unwanted development in their areas.

Dr Poulter fears that council planning officers and councillors on planning committees can be so fearful of the cost of legal challenges that some inappropriate developments are being given planning permission.

He said that the cost of a planning appeal could be high - especially if very large developers hire expensive barristers to put their case.

If they are able to win their appeal, then the council can face a very large bill for costs which could take money away from other services.

He also said that in some cases local residents should have the right to appeal against the approval of large-scale developments if they feared their infrastructure would be unable to cope.

Dr Poulter said: "In my constituency, there have been several cases where applications that appear to have little merit and should probably have been rejected are recommended for approval and are then passed.

"I fear that is because of the fear that if they are rejected the developer will just go to appeal - and that can be very costly."

Dr Poulter said he would like to see a cap put on the amount a council could be ordered to pay in legal fees if it lost a planning appeal.

He said: "If officials and councillors knew there wasn't the potential of open-ended costs they may be prepared to look at applications more critically."

He was speaking after taking part in a Westminster debate on development plans - warning that many towns and villages were struggling to cope with increased numbers of homes.

He said: “Unless local housing targets are set according to local need, then we run into a situation where it is difficult to adequately provide for the necessary infrastructure.

"There should be a right of appeal for local communities against inappropriate housing applications.”