THE £120million Wickford Masterplan could face further delays, after the decision to appoint a developer was put back.

Basildon Council had hoped to announce a development partner next month, but that is now unlikely to happen until after a cabinet meeting in March.

The news came as work on some building sites included in the plan continued to stutter.

The former garage site on Golden Jubilee Way was pulled down last November to make way for the building of 87 flats, but none have so far been built.

Only initial groundwork has been carried out at a proposed development site in Runwell Road, while George Wimpey has not started building its one and two-bedroom Integra development in London Road.

Back in October last year, Rab Fallon, the council’s development director for Wickford, said a three-month delay was being introduced due to the economic downturn.

Mr Fallon said it was “a price worth paying”, if it ensured the masterplan went ahead.

Talking about the latest delay, Basildon Renaissance Partnership’s Adam Keating, said: “We hope to get it put before the cabinet in March. Hopefully by April it will be confirmed, but at the moment negotiations are ongoing.”

He explained the council had no legal power to make developers get on with building projects.

He added: “It’s not unusual for developers to get planning permission and start work and then stop for a period of time, possibly because they are waiting for the housing market to pick up.

“The masterplan is a long-term project of ten to 15 years.”

The £25million Riverside Place development in Lower Southend Road, to build flats, shops and a restaurant, is progressing and a sales day is planned over the weekend of January 31.

Anthony Buck, from Douglas Allen, the marketing agents, said between ten and 15 apartments had already been sold.

But a main critic of the masterplan, Dennis Sways-land, believes the new council delays were to be expected.

The 74-year-old, of Beauchamps Drive, has dubbed the scheme the “disaster plan”. He said: “How can they embark on things without a developer in place? We have no new libraries, no new swimming pools, they have made a hash of it.”