RESIDENTS face further uncertainty after the publication of the draft local plan was pushed back until March.

The document will set out the proposed approach to meeting the borough's requirements for homes, jobs and infrastructure.

There was widespread public anger over the council's local plan preferred development option (PDO), which proposed 24,000 new homes in the town over the next 20 years, including 9,000 on the green belt.

The draft was due to be published in December.

However, the authority says the Government has recently proposed further changes to the formula that will establish the minimum number of homes that Warrington will need to plan for.

It added that the Government is consulting on these changes until December 7.

It is now anticipated that the draft will be published in March 2019, prior to a further round of public consultation.

In a joint statement, council leader Cllr Terry O'Neill and Cllr Judith Guthrie, who is the executive board member responsible for planning, said: "The Government has moved the goalposts yet again and is making the process of producing the local plan more difficult, both for us and other councils to produce their plans.

"It is causing uncertainty for people.

"We have made real progress in producing our plan but this uncertainty around the housing figures is delaying our final decisions and it is compromising our ability to get on with the important job of setting out the strategic future for our borough.

"This is just not good enough and we urge the Government to move to provide clarity on this as a matter of urgency."

But Conservative parish councillor Andy Carter, deputy chair of Warrington Conservatives, has hit back.

He said: "Yet again, Cllr O'Neill and Cllr Guthrie are blaming someone else for delays, when the only people responsible for producing the local plan are Warrington Labour councillors.

"They botched the PDO consultation, have then taken a further 18 months and still we have no idea what will be in the plan.

"Now they're delaying again, causing further uncertainty for residents.

"If they had stuck to their original timeframe we could have had a local planning framework in place by which to judge the many proposals which are coming forward from speculative developers.

"Sadly, it's a case of Labour letting down Warrington again."