The government's flagship regeneration project, the £80 million Allerton Bywater Millennium Community by Aire Design and Broadway Malyan, has suffered yet more delays. Problems with the site have set the start of construction back to late summer, four years later than originally planned.
The scheme has been hit with difficulties following the severe floods in 2000 and 2002, requiring additional work to the drainage system to ensure it matches the Environment Agency's standards.
There have also been protracted negotiations with the Health and Safety Executive over safety issues arising from a chemical factory adjacent to the site.
Duncan Innes, English Partnership's head of millennium communities, said: 'We have agreed to build a chemical storage shed, but the negotiations with the Health and Safety Executive over the conditions and the whereabouts have taken some time.'
The mixed-use project, when complete, will provide the village with 644 new dwellings and 30,000m 2of commercial space, designed to showcase the possibilities of sustainable development.
But Broadway Malyan director Gary Whittle said the site had proved problematic. 'I wonder whether the government regrets choosing Allerton as the site for such a high-profile project.
'It is not particularly suited to what they want to do with the scheme. It is going to be difficult to match the government's own new density targets, ' Whittle added.
Further delays have also followed EP's decision to back out of its exclusive deal with developers Miller Homes and Gleeson Homes. 'We have now got a more lead role in the housing, ' Innes said. 'But there will still be a big role for these firms in the project.' However, he insisted that progress had been made on phase one, which included improvements to the infrastructure of the existing village.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister refused to comment on the delays, insisting the development work is still very much on track.