While lawyers may be helpful, they are not critical.
If your local authority is not presenting the same legal or technical case that you are, you may want to seek advice from a planning lawyer or other planning expert when you are preparing your case, so that you properly present the legal and technical issues.
Contact the local authority's lawyer first to assess their approach.
Establish from the outset how much it will cost to get legal experts involved.
If it is beyond your budget, and there is no hope of raising the money within the community, you may be able to take advantage of schemes that provide low cost legal and planning advice.
You may also choose to nominate one of your own group to act as a lay advocate.You can get further advice from the Environmental Law Foundation, a UK charity specialising in this work.
In planning appeals, each party pays for the cost of preparing and presenting its own case.
Legal costs can only be awarded to or against third parties in exceptional circumstances.
So while costs may be awarded against you if you behave intentionally badly, they cannot be awarded if, for example, your proof of evidence arrives a little late.
If you feel intimidated at any point in the proceedings by threats of costs being brought against you, bring this to the attention of the inspector.