PUBLICATION of the draft local plan has been delayed because of the high volume of public responses submitted during the ‘preferred development option’ (PDO) consultation.

It was due to be published this month to allow for a draft plan consultation to begin, with an independent examination planned for mid-2018.

But it has been pushed back as council officers continue to work through the 6,000 responses.

A spokesman said: "The council is still in the process of reviewing the representations received following the PDO consultation.

"It is anticipated that the council will be issuing a public statement in early February, which will provide an update in terms of the anticipated timetable for the publication of the draft local plan, ahead of a further round of public consultation."

The Warrington Guardian understands in the region of £460,000 has been spent to produce the local plan PDO and on work linked to it so far.

The figure includes costs for council staff, external consultants and venue hire.

The spokesman added: “All local authorities have a legal obligation to prepare a local plan and have no choice over whether or not to do this.

“As such it is part of the mainstream financing and costs of the council, undertaken in the main by staff from numerous teams across the authority.

“It’s also part of the council’s ongoing policy work.

“Therefore, it is difficult to isolate the full costs of preparing the local plan at this stage.”