Futures Forum: The NPPF under pressure: building houses on green space
The traditional definition of 'sustainable development' does indeed have these three 'strands':
A diagram showing the concept of Sustainable Development
However, on the ground [literally...], theory and practice collide - and as Cllr Susie Bond suggests, the 'economic' side of things seems to be winning:
Futures Forum: "Building new homes is as much about communities as it is about housing."
So, how did we reach this impasse?
When the National Planning Policy Framework [NPPF] was being proposed back in 2011, a definition of 'sustainable development' was given:
It is central to the economic, environmental and social success of the country and is the core principle underpinning planning. Simply stated, the principle recognises the importance of ensuring that all people should be able to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life, both now and in the future.
The definition of sustainable development is at the heart of our discussions on the NPPF. The Framework states that the presumption in favour of sustainable development, "should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan making and decision taking." If that is the intention, then the role of sustainable development and the way in which the concept is defined become crucial to the document as a whole. We recognise that, if the final NPPF contains an agreed definition of sustainable development which is balanced and comprehensive, then the 'presumption in favour of sustainable development' becomes a very constructive part of the Government's wider environmental, social and economic agendas, rather than solely some sort of stick to compel the completion of Local Plans or, as some of our evidence argues, simply a presumption in favour of development.
House of Commons - The National Planning Policy Framework - Communities and Local Government Committee
Achieving sustainable development through planning « Sustainable Development in Government
... but there were serious misgivings about its impact:
NPPF 'misrepresents sustainable development' | Planning Resource
Policy - Planning_Reform
Once it had been introduced, these misgivings grew:
NPPF: Will all development be sustainable? | UK Green Building Council
Six key questions hanging over the final NPPF - Campaign to Protect Rural England
What does the NPPF really mean by sustainable development? | Local Leaders Network | Guardian Professional
... particularly on the issue of there being 'presumption in favour of sustainable development':
NPPF comes into force with sustainable development presumption in place
Planning Portal - National Planning Policy Framework - Presumption in favour of sustainable development
NPPFs presumption of sustainable development
Martin Goodall's Planning Law Blog: The presumption in favour of sustainable development
In December last year, the head of the National Trust warned:
“The government’s definition of ‘sustainable’ is in practice being interpreted as ‘profitable’, and has effectively killed the former planning presumption in favour of brownfield land,” warned Simon Jenkins.
English councils preparing to give greenbelt land to developers - Blue and Green Tomorrow
Planning policy could put green belts at risk - National Trust
Councils preparing to allocate greenbelt land for development, study shows | Politics | The Guardian
And across the country, local authorities are worried:
Councils ‘powerless’ to stop new homes onslaught - News - North Devon Gazette
But "Local Plans must conform to the NPPF":
Futures Forum: Development for Sustainability: sustainable communities
And now, District Councils are struggling.
As the Chief Executive of the CPRE has himself just warned:
If a local authority does not have an up to date plan there should not be a presumption in favour of any development a house builder proposes. That is what we are seeing at the moment. “The purpose of the planning system,’ according to the NPPF, ‘is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.” The Government and the Planning Inspectorate must insist that new developments really are sustainable.
In Honiton and Gittisham, an application seems to be taking advantage of the lack of a Local Plan:
Concern over 300 home plan on fields skirting Honiton | Exeter Express and Echo
In Feniton, the whole notion of how to define 'sustainable development' is under scrutiny:
Futures Forum: Sustainability, Sustainability, Sustainability
At a time when the very essence of sustainability incorporates an aspiration to walk to work (reducing reliance on the car), the lack of businesses and employment opportunities in the village makes Feniton unsustainable on this fact alone.
Cloud Cuckoo Land? Super inquiry, day 7 | Susie Bond
Futures Forum: Feniton "has been central to the greatest storm yet to burst over the way the Government’s flawed planning policies are allowing builders to 'lay siege' to rural England."
communities facing the same threats” –
Feniton fight gains more national support today, from CPRE | East Devon Alliance
In Colyford and Seaton, only today, the Inspector has provided a clear definition of 'sustainable development' in turning down an application for housing on green belt:
Futures Forum: Green Belts: the Seaton-Colyford 'green wedge'
It does seem, therefore, that all three 'strands' of 'sustainable development' must be respected with regards to interpreting and implementing the NPPF: