MAJOR building plans which will shape the future of Bracknell Forest for years to come could be delayed again by the government’s shake-up of England’s planning laws.

Bracknell Forest Council’s (BFC) draft local plan — which outlines the authority’s policies towards housebuilding, allocating office space, protecting the countryside and more — was initially pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic but is now expected to be reviewed later in the year.

READ MORE: Bracknell Forest local plan 'delayed'

It includes controversial proposals for the building of 4,000 homes on 240 hectares of land owned by tech company Syngenta at Jealott’s Hill in Warfield, but going forward the “amount of development” in this area will be based on “further analysis”.

Before the lockdown was announced, the council published a summary of the responses it received during a consultation on its revised growth strategy.

The next steps in the local plan process would have included submitting the draft version by summer 2020, with an examination by an inspector due to take place by autumn 2020.

It was hoped the examined plan would be adopted by councillors by early 2021.

READ MORE: Residents react to Bracknell Forest's local plan

But the lockdown delayed officers’ work on the project as resources were diverted to help with the response to the pandemic.

Now the next step will be taken in November.

Max Baker, BFC’s planning chief, explained: “Work on the Local Plan is continuing but the timescales have been slightly delayed due to the pandemic.

“The council’s decision-making executive is set to review the next version of the plan in November.

“Should a COVID-19 second wave occur, or if there are any changes in planning policy arising from the recently published Government white paper on planning, this timetable could be further impacted.

“Jealott’s Hill continues to be part of the Local Plan and the amount of development proposed will be based on further evidence and analysis.

“Other sites that have been put forward are also being assessed for possible inclusion in the plan.”

READ MORE: Parish councils submit responses to Bracknell Forest local plan

Last week, the government unveiled radical reforms to England’s planning system which will designate land into three categories — growth, renewal and protection.

The shake-up has not been well-received in Wokingham borough, with council leader John Halsall claiming the ‘outrageous’ proposals will mean the number of houses built in the area will double to around 1,600 per year.

The News asked BFC for its response to how the planning overhaul might affect Bracknell Forest.

Councillor Chris Turrell, the authority’s lead member for planning, said: “The white paper contains many proposals for radical changes to planning which, if implemented, could change the nature of local plans.

“The paper does, however, include proposals for transitional arrangements which means the council may be able to continue to adopt the Local Plan that is currently being prepared, if approved.

“The council will consider the paper in more detail over the coming weeks and respond to the Government consultation.”