8Planning for Sustainability: Reflections on a Necessary Activity

Joe Doak and Gavin Parker

8.1 Introduction

The concept of sustainable development has had significant import for the policy and practice of spatial planning over the last three decades in the UK. Although there is debate about the extent of tangible or substantive change generated by the emergence of sustainability, there is little doubt that it has transformed the rhetoric that permeates international, national and local policy. This chapter reviews that emergent policy and practice, and maps out the main facets of sustainability that can be used to underpin the development of spatial planning responses into the future. In doing this we argue that an appropriately sensitive and embedded planning ethos is critical to the joining up of different components of sustainable city development.

Planning provides an organising lens through which a range of built environment policy and practice can be effectively debated, orchestrated and implemented, with sustainable development playing a central role as an organising concept or ‘metanarrative’ (Law‐Yone, 2007). As a result, the concept of environmental, social and economic sustainability has long been something that planners have included in their visions, plans and programmes but wider aims of planning practitioners to ensure well‐being and efficient resource predates current terminology. The following UK examples from the pre‐Brundtland commission era illustrate ...

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