Policy Round Up
Planning Minister, Greg Clarke, has announced that he wants to speed up the planning process by bringing in a presumption in favour of sustainable development. This means that a development should go ahead if it is in line with Local Plans (developed by local authorities in consultation with communities) and it does not compromise a key sustainable development principle of the upcoming National Development Framework (up for consultation in July 2011).
Some organisations have criticised the presumption as they feel there is no adequate definition of sustainable development and they are worried that permission could be granted even "where the plan is absent, silent, indeterminate or where relevant policies are out of date".
The Natural Choice, the first White Paper on the natural environment in 20 years, sets out a programme of action to repair damage done to the environment, including proposals to give communities new powers to designate protected green areas as part of local neighbourhood plans.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has produced a summary of key messages from ongoing work by the Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods Project exploring how to create sustainable communities with affordable, environmentally sound housing during difficult economic times. The summary draws on case studies to provide recommendations for house builders and developers.
A report from Living Streets brings together and evaluates the health, economic, social and environmental benefits of walking friendly public spaces.
The government has published its new strategy to promote microgeneration and decentralised energy production. The plan aims to move microgeneration into the mainstream of energy supply and includes actions to increase flexibility, develop skills and knowledge and protect consumers.