Government fails to properly define "Sustainable Development"

Updated: 29th March 2012

The recently published National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) doesn't do a particulalry good job of defining sustainable development in an English Planning specific context.

What the NPPF does do however is refer directly to the 1987 Brundtland Commission report; "Our Common Future".  The Brundtland report specifically defines "sustainable development" as:

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"

It contains within it two key concepts:

The concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and; 

The idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs.

So Esstentially the NPPF requires Local Planning Authorities to presume in favour of any development proposal which satisfies this definition... A very different stand point to the previous planning regime.

What will be possible with the new framework is yet to be tested, but in principle, the newly adopted "presumption in favour of sustainable development" (as opposed to the former dictat; "a general presumption against development") should mean a far less complex and far more progressive planning system that will enable some really exciting developments to move forwards at pace... 


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