Delivering sustainability : development control in a market economy
The concept of Sustainability relates to the continuity of environmental, social, and economic aspects of humanity, and to the protection of the biodiversity and ecology of the natural environment. It was born out of a growing realisation that the scope of humanity's adverse impact onto our planet was greater than its regenerative capacity, and that current levels of development could not be sustained without significantly affecting the development of future generations. In urban areas, the environmental, economic and social dimensions meet most strongly. As cities are the driver of a nation's economy, economic considerations have in the past been given priority over environmental and social aspects. Cities are therefore the focus point of any sustainability strategy. With the adoption of Agenda 21, national and local governments committed themselves to develop a framework which includes the strategic implementation of economic, social and environmental measures in order to achieve full economic potential, social justice, equality of opportunity and environmental protection. Fifteen years after the adoption of the Agenda 21 programme, the results are not consistent. Whilst some environmental aspects have been addressed, the social and economic aspects of the programme have been largely ignored. The private sector has so far portrayed an unwillingness to develop towards the goals set out in local regeneration strategies. The aim of the research is to create an understanding of the economic forces against which regeneration strategies have to be created. It also aims at creating an understanding of the priorities of sustainable development in a political context, as this can be far removed from the utopian view of sustainability. Furthermore, the research provides a discussion of the legislative context in which the conflict between the private and public sector interest unfolds, and provides examples of local strategies and recent developments.