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T11.1: Environmental Sustainability in context

The terms ‘sustainable development’ and ‘sustainable communities’ are commonly used across the planning and development industry, but can mean different things to different people. Essentially, the broad concept encompasses creating and maintaining a better quality of life for everyone now and into the future.

This general ethos lies at the heart of the planning system, as set out in the NPPF which provides further information on the scope and definition of sustainable development.

The ground breaking Egan Review of 2004 considered the concept further and evolved what is referred to as the ‘Egan Wheel’ which highlighted a range of key components needed to create truly sustainable communities.

The Sir John Egan Review of Skills for Sustainable Communities (2004) devised the seven segment wheel to express a sustainable community. He argued that ‘equity’ was a cross cutting theme, so did not need to have a separate segment of its own.

The [then] Government Department Office of the Deputy Prime Minister [ODPM], in its response to the Review, and then subsequently in its publications on Sustainable Communities included the eighth segment, as they felt there was a risk that equalities would not be acknowledged to the level it should be if it was seen to be only cross cutting.  This was further evolved through the Inspire East Excellence Framework, which itself has now become the BRE Excellence Framework.


(Source: Inspire East Excellence Framework)

Planning Authorities should ensure that sustainable development is treated in an integrated way. The relationships between social inclusion, protecting and enhancing the environment, the prudent use of natural resources and economic development need to be considered in all major planning decisions and policy formulation.

Planning authorities should demonstrate how their Local Plans integrate the various elements of sustainable development. The aim should be to achieve outcomes that enable social, environmental and economic objectives to be achieved together.

It is important to undertake an integrated approach to socio-economic and environmental considerations. However, for the purposes of this part of the Guide, ATLAS has focussed on the environmental component of sustainable development, with a specific emphasis on the environmental performance of new development ie the building issues. Separate topic papers on affordable housing, social infrastructure and transport will address these other environmental sustainability issues in more detail.

Last Updated on Thursday 29/03/2012 - 09:53AM

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Advisory Team for Large Applications (ATLAS), 2017