Work on part of the council’s flagship Brent Cross regeneration scheme has been delayed for a second time.

The £1.4 billion plan to extend Brent Cross shopping centre has been put on hold due to “turbulence in the UK retail markets”.

Work on the project – owned by developer Hammerson and Aberdeen Standard Investments – had originally been due to begin this month but was later pushed back to January 2019.

In a strategy update, developer Hammerson gave no definite start date for the project as it announced plans to offload £1.1 billion of its other properties by the end of 2019.

It said: “In the UK, due to increased market risks and while alternative uses of capital offer higher immediate financial returns, we will defer starting on site with our development at Brent Cross.

“The scheme remains an important strategic project and we continue to recognise its role as one of London’s leading retail destinations and will support its future success.”

The expansion plan for the retail outlet is part of a larger £4.5 billion regeneration plan for Brent Cross and Cricklewood, which will provide 7,500 new homes and a new Thameslink station.

Alison Hopkins, a former Lib Dem councillor for Dollis Hill in Brent, said she thought the firm’s announcement meant the expansion would not go ahead.

She said: “The expansion was approved prior to ecommerce and broadband, and it is very car-centric. The whole retail market is in trouble.

“If this is dead in the water, it is good news for people where I live. There will be no massive rubbish dump, and there won’t be 29,000 extra cars on our roads.

“Barnet are in deep trouble. They were getting massive amount of money in section 106 agreements from Hammerson and Standard Life.”

Barnet Council’s Labour leader Barry Rawlings said Hammerson’s announcement was a concern but would not be fatal to the development.

He said: “I have never come across a big building project that has not overrun.

“There is a concern – not because of the section 106, but due to business rates and so on.

“For Hammerson to survive means it has to make Brent Cross a success. The fact that they are selling other things means they are going to focus more on Brent Cross. It is a sign that something will go ahead.”

Leader of Barnet Council Cllr Richard Cornelius said: “Whilst we are naturally disappointed that there will be a deferral in the works due to start at Brent Cross Shopping Centre, we welcome the long-term commitment shown today in the centre and overall scheme.

“Brent Cross is set to become north London’s top destination for living, leisure, retail and business. It is the biggest regeneration programme in Barnet and will deliver significant benefits for the borough and the capital.”

A Hammerson spokesperson said: “We remain committed to Brent Cross and recognise its role as one of London’s leading retail destinations. We will remain engaged with retailers and stakeholders to deliver our key objectives.”