Football fans and concerned residents will have to wait longer to find out whether a council believes a golf course could be a suitable site for a new stadium.

Hertsmere Borough Council announced this afternoon that it has delayed its Local Plan process by several months.

The local plan is a planning document the council is pulling together which will help shape development across Hertsmere up until 2036.

Developers and landowners have put forward a host of housing and employment sites they would like to see redeveloped - and council officers have the task of deciding which of these sites are most appropriate to help meet housing targets and boost the number of jobs in the area.

Dozens of sites have been put forward for consideration across the borough of Hertsmere - including 21 employment sites only this year. It is these 21 sites which the council says has delayed the publication of its draft local plan, which was due to be released in May.

Among those 21 sites was Bushey Hall Golf Club, which the private owners have put forward as a site for a new 33,000 seater stadium for Watford Football Club, along with a host of other facilities including an indoor arena, hotel, and cinema.

This masterplan was released on behalf of Veladail Leisure Ltd. It shows the stadium at Bushey Hall alongside other facilities.

This masterplan was released on behalf of Veladail Leisure Ltd. It shows the stadium at Bushey Hall alongside other facilities.

While the option has been put together by owners Veladail Leisure Ltd, planning documents state that Watford "endorses the promotion of the Bushey Hall Golf Club site for a new stadium as part of Hertsmere's new Local Plan" - although the club has refused to publicly comment on the proposal.

The document adds the proposals would provide the club with the "opportunity to develop a new stadium and community hub in a location within the catchment of the club's existing supporter base".

Unsurprisingly, the proposal has caused huge debate; both for Watford fans, who are divided on whether they would even want to leave Vicarage Road, while residents in Bushey have outlined their concerns about a stadium being built in their neighbourhood.

Any stadium development at Bushey Hall would almost certainly be reliant on the proposal being selected in Hertsmere's draft local plan - but the council says the draft is now unlikely to be released to the public until the autumn.

The golf course at Bushey Hall

The golf course at Bushey Hall

The council’s head of planning, Ross Whear, signed off the revised timetable, following agreement from the council's cross-party member planning panel.

Mr Whear said: "While this decision means that residents, businesses and other interested stakeholders will have to wait a little longer to see the draft plan, it does mean there will be more opportunity to give your views.

"In order to properly assess and consider the 21 new sites submitted during our Call for Employment Sites, we need to conduct additional assessment work.

"In addition, there was cross-party agreement that a further consultation stage be added to our Local Plan process.

"We have already consulted extensively and remain committed to ensuring people can have their say ahead of the final plan being submitted to the government."

Bushey Hall golf course

Bushey Hall golf course

Publication of the draft plan will take place in the autumn, followed by a six-week public consultation period.

There will also be a statutory six-week period of consultation, before the final plan is submitted to a government-appointed inspector next year.

More than 2,000 people responded to a first wave of consultation on the local plan in 2018.