Fears are growing that hundreds of construction workers in Norfolk could have to be laid off by the summer because of the limbo blocking plans for new homes being approved.

A separate warning has been issued that when housebuilding is unlocked, developers are likely to scale back how many of the homes are affordable.

It is now more than a year since councils across much of Norfolk were told by government advisors that they could not permit planning applications for new homes, because of concerns over their environmental impact.

Up to now, the impact of that on the construction industry has not been visible, because work has continued on developments granted permission before the 'nutrient neutrality' directive from Natural England.

Eastern Daily Press: The Broads in NorfolkThe Broads in Norfolk (Image: Mike Page)

But one boss within the construction industry has lifted the lid on their fears that, without rapid resolution, site workers will be laid off, or will look to get jobs in other parts of the country.

READ MORE: How two words left Norfolk's plans for thousands of homes in limbo

The boss, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "It hasn't really impacted yet, because everybody has been getting on with the developments which had got permission.

"But all those sites which had got planning permission are now pretty much done and, with the bigger ones, which do them in phases, they are waiting to get the permission for the next phases.

"So, unless more plans get approved, we are talking about people who will be out of work by the summer unless more of these schemes get approved.

"These are skilled people - electricians, bricklayers, plumbers.

"Many are mainly self-employed, have limited access to government help, with mortgages and families to support.

"Companies are now facing financial ruin and closing as they simply cannot continue with nothing being released by planning."

They said that there was a danger those workers would leave Norfolk in search of work in areas where homes are being built.

READ MORE: Norfolk new homes hope after new wetland sites revealed

The halt was in response to fears new housing was contributing to rising levels of nitrogen and phosphates in the Norfolk Broads and River Wensum.

Eastern Daily Press: Natural England was concerned about pollution on the Broads and river WensumNatural England was concerned about pollution on the Broads and river Wensum (Image: Archant)

Such nutrients reduce oxygen in the water and make it harder for aquatic species to survive.

The directive stopped decisions being made until developers and councils could find ways to mitigate for the claimed impact of nutrients.

Council bosses are hoping a new scheme starting next month, allowing housebuilders to 'offset' the impact of their developments by buying 'credits' to fund mitigation measures, will mean some decisions can be made.

But there has also been a warning that, once construction work does begin, because developers have to buy credits, it will reduce the viability of schemes, so they will not provide so many affordable homes.

That was a point made during a recent hearing about the Greater Norwich Local Plan - a blueprint for where almost 50,000 new homes will be built in and around Norwich by 2036.

Harry Bennett, representing Loddon-based Halsbury Homes, said: "We are going to get less affordable homes delivered through this plan, as sites that are marginal on viability - that have to deliver on-site mitigation or buy credits - are going to have to go down the viability route and deliver less affordable homes."

Eastern Daily Press: Phil Courtier, director of place at Broadland and South Norfolk councilsPhil Courtier, director of place at Broadland and South Norfolk councils (Image: Simon Finlay Photography)

Phil Courtier, director of place at Broadland and South Norfolk councils, said housing schemes of between 600 to 1,000 homes should be able to provide mitigation on site.

He said: "We are confident that 60pc of the growth that is in this plan could be met by developers providing their own solutions to these schemes."

He said the involvement of Anglian Water, through a joint venture, would accelerate how many credits are available - and the speediness of decisions on homes.