15 June 2011: The Government has published today what it means by a "presumption in favour of sustainable development" in the planning system. But there's a fear that this could be used to allow pretty much any develoment in a short-term dash for jobs.
The Govermnment's draft of the presumption in favour of sustainable development reads ok as a broad statement. But it has to rest on a defintion that means something in practice. The Government's ruled out including a definition in the Localism Bill going through Parliament (despite suggestions from the Greenest Planning Ever coalition, that Campaign for Better Transport is a member of).
Instead, they want to include it in the forthcoming National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). There is a already a draft from a small group of practitioners but many of its recommendations are quite vague. According to members of that group, that won't matter as local plans will fill in the detail.
But at the same time, it's clear that the Government could rule that many existing local plans won't count as they won't be in conformity with the NPPF or that they haven't been formally approved yet. There's a danger that we could see a short-term planning free for all as the Government tries to get the economy going again, despite the long-term costs to the economy and environment from increased congestion and carbon.