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PLANNERS PICK UP THE GAUNTLET FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

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A major review of the UK's sustainable development strategy is now out for ...
A major review of the UK's sustainable development strategy is now out for

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

earths, right now!

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.

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