COUNCIL chiefs have backed the revised draft local plan – which proposes 15,000 new homes in the town by 2038.

Labour-run Warrington Borough Council has updated its plan to deliver homes, jobs, transport infrastructure and community facilities.

The draft document was backed by the cabinet on Monday and will now be put before full council on September 20 for approval, ahead of a new, six-week period of public consultation from October 4.

Town Hall bosses expect it to come into force in 2023, following an examination by a planning inspector.

The revised plan has resulted in a reduction in new housing from 945 a year over 20 years, to 816 a year over a reduced plan period of 18 years, 2021 to 2038 inclusive.

The overall number of homes proposed has been reduced to 14,688, with the number of homes set for green belt cut by more than 2,000.

Land earmarked for employment use has dropped from 362 hectares to 316 hectares. Around 137 hectares is planned for green belt following a significant reduction in the revised proposals.

Under the new plans, the huge Fiddlers Ferry site has been earmarked for 1,310 homes in the green belt, along with 101 hectares of employment land on brownfield land, during the plan period.

Speaking during the cabinet meeting on Monday, Cllr Hitesh Patel, portfolio holder for environment, housing and public protection, said: “I accept no one really wants to build on green belt land and, as an administration and as a council, we have done everything we can to minimise this.

“But we are hampered, we are really hampered by the house-building targets and the policy framework set by the Conservative Government.

“It’s not just us, like I said, this is a framework that we’re working to that’s affecting all local authorities, regardless of the colour of their administration.

“All our local neighbouring authorities either have plans, or are developing plans, to release some of their green belt land for development.”

Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden also shared his views and said the council did not just push ahead with the previous local plan proposals.

He added: “Actually, we took the time to pause and reflect on some really significant issues.

“I think the whole Covid global pandemic has demonstrated to people how much they value the space around them, particularly their green environment, and again the very positive changes to the release of green belt has to be welcomed by people across Warrington.”