JOBS are being risk as the city council has been blocked from giving planning permission, according to a Winchester architect.

Councils in Hampshire have been forced to put developments on hold after nitrogen from housing wastewater and agricultural sources accelerated the growth of algae.

It came after it was revealed that the algae is damaging protected wildlife habitats and bird species around The Solent.

But now planning chiefs have hit out at Winchester City Council as it has been advised by Natural England to refused new developments that are not “nitrate neutral”.

Jeremy Tyrrell, managing director of T2 Architects, told a meeting: “As a local practice we have a number of projects completely stalled due to the lack of decision here at the council and lack of decision making by the planning authority.

“The issue is seriously affecting our clients which in turn is beginning to affect our business, without planning permissions being issued this means our clients can’t obtain development funding. Projects are having to be put on hold which means there is no certainty for us as to when we can progress with the next stage of work.

“In some cases a portion of our fees are payable on grant of planning permission so currently we are out of pocket as a direct result of this problem.

“Furthermore, it is becoming a very real problem for our practice’s cashflow, workforce, forecasting, project planning and resource planning.

“We employ nine staff; we’ve been trading successfully for twelve years never in this time have we had a situation that has affected our business so seriously and I know we are not alone.” Mr Tyrrell said that there are other companies in the sector whose staff are finding their “jobs are at risk due to a lack of decision making on this subject”.

He added: “We find it completely astounding that local government can put a block on development without having a solution in place first. We simply cannot wait for further months of decision making, it needs to be addressed in the next few weeks as a matter of urgency.”

In response Cllr Jackie Porter, cabinet member for built environment and wellbeing, said: “We are very aware of this huge block that has been placed on us effectively by Government, by Natural England, who are saying that unless each development can show it’s neutrality we cannot approve it.”

Cllr Porter said there isn’t a clear mandate from government to give approvals. “One of the things we have been looking at is a strategy that does reflect the others within the county, but I don’t think that is necessarily going to make your position any better.”

She added: “We have also written to the minister Robert Jenrick to specifically raise the point that for larger developers they can take the pain a little bit more easily but for smaller developers this is a real problem and we have said that it actually puts a risk to our local smaller businesses.”

An interim position statement is expected to be brought to cabinet later this month (January).