CITY council leaders are being forced to update the planning application for the new Barton Park estate as a vital element was left out of the original masterplan.

Councillors have been warned that if there is any challenge to the update, a planning inquiry could be held, delaying the completion of new homes.

The first residents moved into the 885-home estate, a joint venture between Grosvenor, Oxford City Council and housebuilder Hill, this summer.

While people have been buying up homes and moving in to £400,000 apartments at Elsfield House – part of Mosaics Oxford – the entire scheme is not expected to be finished until 2023.

Councillors will be told at a town hall meeting on Monday that when outline planning permission was granted in 2013, a condition setting out a time period for the submission of supplementary applications relating to the scheme – known as reserved matters – was not included.

As a result, a deadline of just three years for additional planning matters was imposed as a ‘default position’ under the Town and Country Planning Act.

With the entire development expected to take about eight years to complete, including a new community centre and a new school, this three-year limit was nowhere near enough time.

Barton city councillor Mike Rowley said: “This is a legal technicality - one paragraph was missed out of a massive masterplan - it’s regrettable but the council is working to fix this."

He added “Barton Park is not behind schedule at all – members of the public are backing the new development – it’s vital that affordable homes are built in Oxford.”

Board member for planning and transport Alex Hollingsworth said: “Barton Park was always designed to be built in phases – there’s no delay to the timetable.”

Councillors are being warned that if they do not amend the planning condition regarding reserved matters the only alternative would be to submit a further planning application, which could be a 'costly and time-consuming exercise'.

The local authority faces a further complication as a national regulation relating to Environmental Impact Assessments is being changed on Monday and after that date a planning permission cannot be modified without first being ‘screened’ to determine whether an Environmental Statement is required.

Councillors are warned in a report to the meeting that if there is any challenge to the process of updating the environmental statement a planning inquiry could be held, so £30,000 should be set aside to contest it if necessary.

Councillors are recommended to make a modification order under section 97 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to amend the time period for reserved matters on the Barton Park planning application.