consultation, and its foreword lays down the gauntlet, unequivocally. It
says that our current lifestyles are not sustainable - and if they were
replicated by everyone across the world, then we would need two more planet
The Sustainable Development Commission's reporthighlights key indicators,
but the most important issue is identified as 'delivery'. It deduces that we
need to be absolutely clear about priorities, delivery mechanisms - and just
exactly what we are trying to achieve. Over the next three months, the Royal Town Planning Institute will be assembling its response to the consultation.
Jim Claydon, chairman of the planning, policy and practice committee, says:
'We need to clarify our vision for the role of planning in delivering
sustainable development in the UK. We'll examine the priorities proposed and
the delivery issues raised.'
Significantly this is a UK document, jointly promoted by Westminster and the
devolved administrations, but the matters raised and the resources required
are both international and inter-regional. The tensions arising from this,
both actual and perceived, need to be resolved through a UK Spatial
Development Strategy - to which the RTPI is currently lobbying government to
commit - to enable cooperative working and achieve long-term sustainability,
without undervaluing the importance of local issues also.
One of the challenges for planners, developers and communities is to
envisage a world where sustainable development is being achieved. The
Strategy suggests four priority areas on which to concentrate:
* Climate change and energy
* Consumption, production and use of natural resources
* Environmental and social justice
* Helping communities to help themselves
Supporting actions will be need ed to:
* Help change behaviour
* Work collaboratively with Europe and beyond
* Get the institutional structures and tools right
* Increase the business contribution
Mr Claydon said: 'We need to argue the case for spatial planning in meeting the 'delivery deficit' that has held back the UK's performance to date. There will be working groups involved, but I urge all members to submit your views - either through your branch or directly to the RTPI.'
Spatial planning is of central importance to all the areas and actions. The
location and nature of the built environment needs to minimise our demand
for energy and demonstrate greater awareness of ecological issues. For
instance, development decision-making must ensure a clear reduction in
potential flood damage.
Environmental and social justice must be seen as key drivers of the UK's
planning systems. Both human rights and the responsibilities of citizenship
underpin the delivery of sustainable development - and this is already
manifested in the RTPI's commitment to the recent enlargement of its
Planning Aid service.
Planners and politicians are ready to take it on - and ask 'what sort of
communities and built environments are sustainable?' - and to actively
relate the answer to actual locations, with regard to their environment,
economy and culture.