Planning for sustainable development—regulation

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Planning for sustainable development—regulation
  • The planning system
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Planning conditions
  • Planning obligations
  • Building Regulations 2010
  • Energy performance certificates

Planning for sustainable development—regulation

Sustainable development essentially means keeping current development within sustainable levels, protecting the needs and resources of the environment and mankind.

It aims to ensure that buildings and places are designed, constructed, used and demolished in a manner which reduces their environmental impact and mitigates and adapts to climate change.

Sustainable development is promoted through a variety of legislative and voluntary controls that developers must comply with throughout the lifecycle of a commercial building. The following regimes illustrate how the principles of sustainable development are enforced in practice:

  1. the planning system

  2. Building Regulations 2010


  4. Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012, SI 2012/3118

The planning system

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (PCPA 2004) introduced the requirement for local planning authorities to exercise their planning powers ‘with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development’.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. At a very high level, the objective of sustainable development is summarised as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In defining sustainable, the government refers to three objectives which are stated to be interdependent and should be pursued in mutually supportive ways: economic, social and environmental.

The NPPF establishes

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