The building of thousands of new Norfolk homes for older people with social care needs has been held up by the limbo blocking new housing.

Norfolk County Council officers have revealed the authority's plans to build housing with care homes - where older people can live independently but get social care support - has been hit by the nutrient neutrality issue.

County councillors have slammed rules preventing the construction of housing which would keep people out of care homes - and help prevent so-called bed blocking in the county's hospitals.

Since March last year, many of Norfolk's councils have been unable, following a directive by government advisor Natural England, to give housing the go-ahead in catchment areas of the Wensum and the Broads.

That directive said new housing could not be permitted unless developers could 'offset' extra nutrients which would flow from wastewater in new homes, for example from washing machines and sewage.

Excess nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphates, reduce oxygen in water and make it harder for aquatic species to survive.

Since then, councils have been trying to find ways to provide mitigation measures.

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But officers at Conservative-run County Hall say they have independent living schemes in the pipeline which have been unable to go ahead because planning permission cannot be granted.

The council says such schemes help people retain their independence, have somewhere suitable to go after leaving hospital and are less costly than care homes.

The council wants to build 2,800 for older people and 183 for younger adults by 2028 - but they are in limbo.

Eastern Daily Press: Fran Whymark, Norfolk county councillor for WroxhamFran Whymark, Norfolk county councillor for Wroxham (Image: DENISE BRADLEY)

Fran Whymark, Conservative county councillor for Wroxham division, said: "In Rackheath, there is an independent living unit on hold due to nutrient neutrality and there's going to be a number across the county.

"That's a real shame. The sooner they can come forward the better, because they are better for people and generate a lot of savings too."

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk county councillor Brian Long, who represents FinchamNorfolk county councillor Brian Long, who represents Fincham (Image: Archant 2018)

Brian Long, Conservative county councillor for Fincham division, slammed Natural England for not allowing such developments to be excused from the block on the granting of permission.

He said the older people who would live in the houses are already in Norfolk, so would not be adding more nutrients.