Plans for the £1.2bn regeneration of Basildon and Wickford town centres have been delayed by the credit crunch.

The local councils were hoping to announce partners by summer or autumn this year for the schemes. Now the winning partners will be announced in 2009.

In Basildon, British Land with Lend Lease and Barratt with its commercial subsidiary, which it is trying to sell, are left on the shortlist for the project.

In Wickford, St Modwen Properties, Barratt Homes, Bellway Homes and Community Solutions for Regeneration are on the shortlist for the scheme.

Councillor Stephen Horgan, cabinet member for regeneration and Green issues, said: ‘The principal cause of the delays has been the credit crunch. The council and the bidders are seeking to ensure that they achieve the best deal for Basildon and the community and this takes time, particularly in the current difficult economic climate.

‘However both members and officers of the council involved in leading the ambitious regeneration programme are confident that our pragmatic approach of balancing community interest and commercial reality is going to lead to the best outcome.’

Ian Butt, development project director for the regeneration of Basildon said: ‘These are hard times for the property sector and we have had to acknowledge that in our regeneration projects.’

Rob Fallon, development director for the regeneration of Wickford, said: ‘A three month delay on the announcement is a price worth paying if it guarantees that the project will move ahead in these tough economic conditions.’