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Sustainable development has again been sidelined by the department of the environment in a planning guidance docume...
Sustainable development has again been sidelined by the department of the environment in a planning guidance document, says the Royal Town Planning Institute.

The document, Planning Policy Guidance note 7, provides guidance on land use planning in rural areas of England, and is generally welcomed by the institute: 'This revised draft is a worthwhile improvement on the current PPG7.'

However, in their submission to the DoE, the RTPI criticises the lack of advice on how to promote sustainable development, a cornerstone for the government's policy for the countryside.

Philip Watts, who is a member of the RTPI's countryside and natural environment panel, said the institute strongly supported the objectives for sustainable development in the countryside, as far as they appeared in the document.

But he was unhappy about the lack of weight given to reducing the need to travel and the scarcity of practical advice on how to achieve the government's objectives for sustainable development.

Mr Watts said: 'Much present day building does not respect local character - one of the objectives of sustainable development must be to overcome this blanket approach.

'The institute welcomes the references in the PPG to good quality design and to maintaining local distinctiveness. After all, it is the varying character of the English countryside which is its strong point.'

He added the although the institute was unhappy about the lack of substance in references to sustainable development, the draft revision was broadly welcomed.

Notable among these were:

-- the clear importance attached to environmental quality

-- the balanced approach to the conservation of the countryside and its social and economic needs

-- the strengthening of controls over agricultural buildings.

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