THE council leader says it would be ‘improper’ to consider further representations on proposals for Warrington’s emerging local plan following a plea from parish councils.

The publication of the updated local plan has been hit by significant delays.

More than 3,500 responses were received by the Labour-run council following a nine-week consultation on the draft document last year.

It set out the legal planning framework for the borough’s development over the next two decades and put forward proposals for 18,900 new homes – or 945 a year – up until 2037.

But there was widespread anger after more than 7,000 homes were controversially earmarked for green belt land in the draft.

The South Warrington Parish Councils’ Local Plan Group submitted a public question to the council during Monday’s virtual full council meeting.

Chairman Cllr Cliff Taylor, who asked it, said the proposed submission version of the local plan put forward by the borough council is now out of date, undeliverable and would be ‘found unsound’ if it proceeds to an examination in public.

The group will be putting forward an ‘alternative vision’ soon.

He highlighted Covid-19, the economic recession, emergence of new brownfield sites and an increased emphasis on climate change – and said the proposals take no account of these significant changes.

Cllr Taylor added: “Before the end of this month, the parishes’ group will publish the detailed case for Warrington Council to reconsider its local plan proposals.

“We will urge the council to revise the proposed submission version and give Warrington a local plan, which will be sound and suitable for today’s circumstances.

“Will the leader please confirm that he and his cabinet will give serious consideration to our document, which we put forward in the best interests of the whole borough?”

However, council leader Cllr Russ Bowden stated it would be ‘improper’ to consider further representations from interested groups outside of the statutory consultation process, but told Cllr Taylor he is confident the issues raised are the same matters Town Hall chiefs are currently mindful of.

He said: “I think it would be both improper and unjust to those who have made those representations to consider further input to the process outside of the statutory process, which the council followed and has continued to do so to the current date.

“That said, I think we do need to be mindful of the impact of Covid-19, we need to be mindful of the current economic situation, we need to be mindful of the Government’s plans, in particularly with regard to the planning system in the recent White Paper et cetera, and I expect to be announcing the timeframe for the local plan in the coming weeks.

“Obviously, we will be making that statement to council and publicly in due course.

“I am obviously well aware of the significant changes and events that have happened this year, the most significant of course being coronavirus.

“It remains to be seen what the long-term impact of Covid-19 is in terms of the recovery but obviously in terms of the economic situation for the nation, let alone Warrington.”