LABOUR councillor’s have criticised Middlesbrough Council after it emerged that the town’s Local Plan would not be finalised until 2022.

Citing the impact related to Covid-19, the process will now not begin until 2021.

A decision taken on Monday, June 22 by an officer within Middlesbrough Council’s regeneration department confirmed that a final plan would not be voted on by Full Council until March 2022. Consultations with the public are not expected to take place until later in 2021.

This means the authority will be reliant on the 2014 Local Plan.

In June 2019, Mayor Andy Preston, axed the previous Labour Administrations Local Plan.

In his first council meeting he pledged that a new plan would be agreed swiftly.

Speaking at the time Mayor Preston said: “We’re certain it won’t involve a lengthy delay. We’re certain it won’t cost the council any money.”

Theo Furness, Labour’s spokesperson for Regeneration said: “This is a key strategic document for the council.

"It’s not just about housebuilding, it’s about making sure that the development of our town is carefully planned to a clear strategy that the council is accountable for. Virtually none of this current council were elected when the 2014 Plan was agreed. Local Plans are critical to ensuring that the council, and not developers, control the quality and pace of development in Middlesbrough.”

Councillor Matt Storey, Leader of Middlesbrough Labour Group said: “Regardless of Covid-19 we are a year on from the Mayor’s statement that this would be resolved without a lengthy delay. Now we are told it won’t be finalised until March 2022. This isn’t good enough. There was a perfectly good plan that the Mayor binned. Now we are at the mercy of developers and relying on an out of date plan from 2014. This is yet another example of the Mayor taking a political decision and not considering the consequences of his actions- the consequences being a three year delay and an increase in costs to the council. The two things he said he was ‘certain’ we wouldn’t have to worry about.”

In response Mayor Preston said: “I’d urge people to ignore the student politics and look at the truth: Cllr Storey and his party political gang love building colossal housing estates on precious green spaces - it seems that’s all they understand. Regardless of what people wanted, they damaged fields, trees and wildlife - they could have ruined Nunthorpe and Marton. I’m doing things differently - creating new homes in central Middlesbrough and consulting properly with residents about the way forward. Listening to people takes time because we’ll do it property and deliver housing across the town that works for everyone. I will ignore this cheap attempt to wind the public up and destabilise Middlesbrough Council.”