Do sustainability measures constrain creativity in urban design?


Susan Juned, Joanne M Leach, Christopher T Boyko, Rachel Cooper, Anna Woodeson, Jim Eyre, Chris DF Rogers

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), introduced in 2012, has as a key tenet a presumption in favour of sustainable development. Less noted is an aim, embodied in the Ministerial introduction, that planning should be a 'creative process'. The Framework requires that good design should contribute positively to making places better for people.

The NPPF does not set out any process or criteria whereby sustainable development might be said to have been achieved. Rather, it sets out principles and asks that Local Planning Authorities consider using design codes that avoid unnecessary prescription or detail, and that planning policies should not stifle innovation.

Last year, a team of researchers based at the universities of Birmingham and Lancaster undertook research on two questions: (1) do sustainability guidelines and assessments hinder or encourage creativity and innovation in urban design; and, (2) how might any negative impacts be mitigated and positive impacts promoted?

The researchers carried out interviews with built environment professionals, undertook a critical analysis of sustainable development assessment methods in general use (e.g., BREEAM, Design Review) and identified characteristics that promote creativity and innovation in urban design.

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Juned S, Leach JM, Boyko CT, Cooper R, Woodeson A, Eyre J, Rogers CDF (2015). Do sustainability measures constrain creativity in urban design? The Municipal Journal. Online: 22 June 2015.
Publication Date
22nd of June 2015