Reading Borough Council (RBC) has raised concerns over potential delays to its blueprint for the future of the town’s housing provision.

The council needs to build 699 new homes every year in order to meet the predicted demand by 2036, according to its deputy leader Councillor Tony Page.

A draft local plan was submitted to Westminster in March 2018, with planning inspector Louise Gibbons publicly examining the proposals between September 25 and October 5.

The inspector is currently working on delivering her final report but has informed the council that ‘main modifications’ are required in certain areas, which would mean additional consultation is needed.

RBC expected to receive a list by March 1 and approve the modifications for consultation at Monday’s Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport (SEPT) meeting, but the inspector is still preparing the list.

A Planning Inspectorate spokesman said: “We are sorry for the delay in sending the list of main modifications to the council. The Inspector is currently considering these and will be writing to the council in the coming week.”

The list will be brought to Policy committee, on June 10, for approval if no update is provided before the meeting.

The SEPT committee report states: “It is not surprising that main modifications have been identified, as they are now regularly required by Inspectors.

“Despite informing the Council to expect a list of main modifications by March 1, this has not yet been provided.

“The inspector has also indicated that there may be matters where further information is required but has not outlined what that would be.

“Therefore, whilst it was anticipated that this committee would agree a list of main modifications for consultation, this has not been possible.

“The council will write separately to the Planning Inspectorate to express concerns about the process following the hearings, in view of the Government’s priority that councils get local plans in place.”

The inspector identifies necessary modifications but the council must draft the specific wording and consult on the modifications.

If approval of the list is delayed till June 10, the consultation would then likely be carried out in June and July, with a view to receiving a final inspector’s report in time to adopt the Local Plan at full council on October 15.

The SEPT report adds: “These timescales are clearly subject to receiving timely responses from the Inspector.”

Inspector Gibbons’ list of changes must be acted upon, or the plan would not be considered ‘sound’ or legally compliant and could not be adopted.

The Local Plan sets out the planning policies for an area and is the main consideration in deciding planning applications.

Publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012, which was amended again in 2018, meant significant changes were needed to the council’s current plan.

A particular need is for local planning authorities to identify their ‘objectively assessed development needs’ and provide for them.