Norfolk’s councils are preparing to offer a contract of up to £100,000 to an expert consultant, in the hope of finding a solution to a temporary ban on new homes across much of the county.

The local authorities are searching for a way to satisfy 'nutrient neutrality' requirements introduced upon the instruction of government advisor Natural England, to ensure the River Wensum and the Broads are not affected by wastewater pollution.

The new measures mean no new ‘overnight accommodation’ can be granted planning permission across Norwich and much of its surrounding countryside, until a strategy has been drawn up to mitigate the impact of wastewater from new homes on the county’s waterways.

Now, Norfolk’s seven district, borough and city councils are advertising for a “suitably qualified consultant team” to prepare a "Nitrate and Phosphate Mitigation Strategy" across the catchment areas of the Wensum and Broads.

They are offering the successful contract holder up to £100,000, with the eventual cost split between them.

Eastern Daily Press: Norwich City Council passed a motion pledging support for the transgender and non-binary communityNorwich City Council passed a motion pledging support for the transgender and non-binary community (Image: Newsquest)

A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council, which put the tender out on behalf of all seven authorities, said they would also together be “seeking to draw down government funding that has been made available to assist with the response to the nutrient neutrality guidance”.

The tender was put out on Thursday, April 22, and interested applicants do not have much longer to put their bids in, with a deadline set of Monday, May 9.

The job would then start as soon as Wednesday, May 18, and potentially run for a year, with an “end date” of May 17, 2023.

But an “extension clause date” of May 17, 2024 means the councils are allowing for the possibility of the work taking up to two years - a timeframe North Norfolk District Council leader Tim Adams this week described as a “very worst case scenario”.

Eastern Daily Press: Tim Adams, leader of North Norfolk District Council.Tim Adams, leader of North Norfolk District Council. (Image: Supplied by the Liberal Democrats)

The councils are under pressure to find a solution as quickly as possible, with an estimated 10,490 homes currently on hold in the area affected across Norfolk.

Until a long-term strategy is developed, the councils hope to create short-term fixes which will enable them to approve smaller, less complex housing developments.

Phil Courtier, head of planning at South Norfolk and Broadland councils, said they hoped to have such short-term fixes “in the next few months”, while Norwich City Council has said it hopes to issue “some permissions” by the autumn of this year.