Overestimates of the amount of river polluting nutrients housebuilding generates is leading councils to delay 100,000 new homes’ planning applications, claims the Home Builders Federation.

A new report by planning consultancy Lichfields shows Natural England’s pollutant methodology to be based on overestimates about the population increase new homes generate.

Lichfields senior director Gareth Williams said: “It fails to recognise a significant proportion of these new homes are to meet the requirement of existing residents so have no impact on the overall population and secondly; they then apply an average household size that overestimates future population.”

The Homes Builders Federation, HBF, who commissioned the report, wants Natural England’s calculation that each new home generates a population increase of 2.4 people to reflect local differences.

The Lichfields report has highlighted that in the initial seven catchment areas affected by nutrients average households are below the national average of 2.35.  It added that government statistics forecast a drop in average household numbers to 2.1 to 2.2 by 2039.

HBF’s cities director James Stevens said: “We are urging the government to work with us to agree on a proportionate and sustainable solution to ensure housebuilding can resume in the areas concerned. Providing desperately needed new homes delivers significant social and economic benefits for new and existing communities and solutions need to be found.”

Levelling-up territories hit

It estimates that 100,000 new homes are being delayed primarily in Teesmouth and the Cleveland coast region followed by the Broads and Wensum in Norfolk and in the Carlisle area around the river Eden.

Finance brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said that housing development was being stopped in key levelling-up territories where lenders were keen to support SME builders with construction loans.

Housing development across 74 local authorities in England and Wales has been held up following a European Court of Justice ruling in 2018 known as the Dutch case. The HBF said the government has recognised that agricultural and water companies are largely responsible for the majority of river pollution cases.  It claims the urban environment accounts for just four per cent of contamination.

Natural England was approached for a comment on the issue.

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