The Local Government Association (LGA) has conducted research entitled ‘Nutrient and water neutrality: The impact of environmental protections on housing supply’. The LGA commissioned Residential Analysts and Canal Street Research to investigate the potential impact of environmental protections on new housing delivery. A news report in inews said that ‘sewage-polluted rivers blocking construction of thousands of new homes every year’ and that ‘councils across England are being blocked from approving the construction of 20,000 new homes a year due to rules designed to clean up river pollution, according to analysis.

More than 7 per cent of all of England’s planned house building cannot go ahead due to high levels of nutrient pollution in nearby waterways.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which conducted the analysis, said the situation was “concerning and frustrating” for local authorities charged with increasing the supply of affordable housing for their residents.

In total 74 local planning authorities are impacted by the ‘nutrient neutrality’ rule, which holds that developers cannot build more housing near certain river catchments unless they can prove the development will not add more damaging nitrates or phosphates to waterways.’ The full news piece can be read here.

The LGA highlighted that ‘there is an underlying tension between national ambitions for high standards of environment protection and rapid housing growth.

Environmental law designed to protect fragile natural habitats has stopped all planning decisions on new development in certain river catchment areas, having a range of impacts on councils’ ambitions for places and communities. It is also a challenge to local plan led development.

The research is wholly backwards looking and past performance is not necessarily reflective of what will happen in the future, and it does not factor for instances where mitigation measures have enabled some development to take place. Therefore this analysis should be supplemented by further research investigating the location of future housing supply relative to the advice areas.’

The report from the Local Government Association can be found here.

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