Growth put before the environment

18th July 2011


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  • Public sector ,
  • Property ,
  • Local government

Author

IEMA

The government's proposed approach to sustainable development in local planning has been criticised as promoting the economic agenda ahead of protecting the environment.

The draft “Presumption in favour of sustainable development” confirms that the planning system’s default position should be to approve developments, unless they fail to meet key sustainable development requirements listed in the forthcoming new national policy planning framework.

Planning, according to the presumption, should help to stimulate economic growth, maximise wellbeing and protect the environment, without harming future generations’ ability to do the same.

The wording was condemned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) as “a fig leaf for a pro-growth agenda regardless of the environmental consequence”.

“This proposed policy is as insidious as it is misleading …[It] could open the floodgates to environmentally damaging development across the country,” warned the CPRE’s Paul Miner.

The Town and Country Planning Association, while agreeing that planning had an important role in ensuring growth, questioned whether the presumption would truly ensure sustainable communities.

“The definition places economic growth as the driver, contradicting the principles of a balanced approach between economic development, environmental concerns and social justice,” commented chief planner Hugh Ellis.

Announcing the presumption, decentralisation minister Greg Clark argued that the change of policy will speed up development, enabling the construction of new homes, renewable energy plants and transport links. “By insisting on sustainable growth we can help make sure that what we build today leaves a positive legacy for future generations,” he said.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, also defended the presumption, saying it wasn’t a green light for development. “Planning will still have to be exercised with the protections afforded by the national planning policy and community-led local plans.”


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