CHESHIRE West and Chester Council spent £4.3m on consultants in 2012/13 – an increase of about £600,000 on the previous year.

The council says the increased spend reflects the council’s ‘considerable investment’ in the borough as capital projects come on stream.

Among the projects highlighted in the Freedom of Information response are the Northgate Development, Grosvenor Park, the Altogether Better Programme and design work associated with the replacement leisure centre at Ellesmere Port.

A spokesperson said: “The council has put in place a robust approval, monitoring and reporting process for the use of all consultants, with those higher value commissions (over £50,000) requiring a full business case being presented to the corporate management team.

“Commissions below £50,000 are approved by the service director at directorate management team. While spend has increased this is partly attributable to a number of new and ongoing large projects.”

A large element, totalling £1.9m and representing 45 per cent of spend on consultancy, was around construction issues.

Rider Levett Bucknall UK Ltd received £613,764 for project management of the Barons Quay regeneration scheme in Northwich.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers won £612,302 worth of work on an outline business case for new housing options. ACME Ltd received £195,000 for work on the Northgate Development, with consultant Chris Morland picking up £64,500 on the same project.

The Building Design Partnership received £115,070 towards the Chester Cathedral project. Buro Four Project Services was awarded work worth £61,419 on the Chester theatre vision, while Bennetts Associates Architects received £53,373 on the same case.