Submission of the Crawley 2029 draft Local Plan, which will shape the future of the town for the next 15 years, has been deferred for two months.
The resignation of Cllr Bob Lanzer as Leader of Crawley Borough Council has been cited as one of the reasons for the delay.
The draft 2029 plan hit the headlines recently when Ewhurst Playing Fields was put forward as a possible site for a new cemetery.
There were also concerns that too much playing field land had been earmarked for development, particularly in Bewbush, and that two possible sites had been allocated for traveller occupation.
An extension to the consultation period was called for by residents and ward councillors but was turned down on the grounds that it would delay the submission of the plan.
The draft plan was due to be submitted in October but will be held over until December.
Acting Leader Cllr Claire Denman denied the delay had anything to do with Cllr Lanzer’s resignation as Leader.
She insisted it was because the council was waiting for Sport England to submit its consultation response regarding the use of playing fields for development.
She added: “There are a couple of bits of evidence we really need to get a better understanding of before submission around affordable housing and public open space.
“We haven’t had Sport England’s response. They have to assess the impact on the community.
“That’s the really important bit of evidence to get.”
A council spokesman said: “The draft submission of the Local Plan has been deferred by one committee cycle, or nine weeks, due to the complexity of some of the planning issues, and the election of a new Leader of the council.
“This will now be debated at Cabinet on December 4 and Full Council on December 18.
“If approved by Full Council a further period of public consultation will take place in January and February 2014.
“A revised timetable is being discussed by the Local Plan Working Group next week and will be published once it’s agreed.
“It’s vital that Crawley has a sound Local Plan so this short delay for a plan which runs for 15 years until 2029 is not significant. Residents have been consulted at every stage and will continue to be.”
Cllr Peter Smith (Lab, Ifield) said: “At the Full Council in July, we were asking for further consultation with residents on the cemetery and traveller sites.
“ Cllr Denman was very elequent about the fact that it’s important to get the plan through as soon as possible.
“The reasons for the deferrment look slightly spurious to me.
“I’m not saying they are incorrect but we either have a tight schedule or we don’t have a tight schedule. Which is it?”