A new neighbourhood plan for Burntwood is now unlikely to be confirmed until 2020, it has been revealed.
Work on the document, which will help inform future development in the town based on local views, began in 2014.
But Labour’s Steve Norman, who will be elected to Burntwood Town Council uncontested, accused the previous Conservative administration of causing a costly delay – and said members of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee were “stunned” to learn that the plan was not close to being completed.
He said: “This date of 2020 was the advice from the council’s planning consultants who have been helping the town council to prepare the plan.
“After a flying start in July 2014, the Conservative administration that took over the following May did not progress it as I believe they should have done.
“It did not seem a priority for them – even after they replaced the new chairman.
“What this meant was that in April last year planning authorities like Lichfield District Council were caught by a judgement taken to the European Court called ‘People over Wind’ which put everything on hold for a whole 12 months until Parliament put new legislation in place to comply with the ruling.
“This concerned Habitat regulations assessment and impacts on Cannock Chase SAC.”
Mr Norman told the committee that he had contacted both Natural England and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government in February this year because the promised guidance had not been updated and was told that progress was being made.
Cllr Diane Evans, leader of the Labour group at Burntwood Town Council, said: “Another consequence of the delay is that we have lost £16,500 in Community Infrastructure Levy as councils get 25% of this where there is a Neighbourhood Plan in place but only 15% if not.”