Development Context

Professionals' Perspective

Following 3 workshops held in autumn 2003 (hosted by the Welsh Development Agency, SEEDA, and Yorkshire Forward) the following perspectives of planners and developers regarding barriers to the progress of sustainable construction were identified.

There were clear areas where each profession perceived the other to be creating barriers to more sustainable development occurring, but there were also some perceived barriers common to both professions.

Part of the aim of this resource is to develop a better understanding of the differing and common perspectives of planners and developers, including through the provision of training to mixed groups drawn from both audiences.






The planners had issues with the attitudes of the developers, as well as with their own lack of time and resources to effectively implement policy:


  • ‘Developers try and chip away at requirements once they are preferred bidder on a piece of land’
  • ‘Mixed attitude of developers – some don’t need convincing, others don’t want to consider sustainability’
  • ‘Developers aren’t interested in new technologies or specifications’
  • ‘Construction industry is a slow moving industry‘
  • ‘Development plans become out of date and less relevant towards the end of their life span.’
  • ‘Lack of long term planning  - social or economic factors outweigh environmental factors in some areas’
  • ‘Seen by the developer as a costly unknown’

Work pressures

  • ‘Time – planners are overworked and under resourced’
  • ‘Due to the current upheaval in the planning system, there can be uncertainty over what exactly they, as planners, can legally require’
  • ‘The high turnover of planners (and a lack of planners generally in the profession) can also lead to difficulties in the consistent application of sustainability checklists and supplementary planning guidance.’


  • ‘Jobs v environment for the local politicians’
  • ‘Perpetual dilemma between safeguarding of jobs (esp. manufacturing) and identification / release of housing sites’




The developers have issues with the range of requirements within and across local authorities leading to uncertainty and lack of clarity over demands, with these varying from one authority to another:


  • ‘Unreasonable demands from local authority’
  • ‘Lack of clarity, consistency and definition’
  • ‘Politics provides lip service to the concept; green buildings increase costs without return’

Work/Market Pressures

  • ‘Lack of a level playing field’
  • ‘Time – lack of time to source the sustainable products and materials requested’
  • ‘It takes too much time (in general)’
  • ‘Funders will only invest in what they know – the value of an eco building would need to be demonstrated to them’
  • ‘Not enough planners understood development finance which led to their expectations being too high and struggles with the developer later on.’



Both have issues with policy and a lack of awareness in key audiences.

  • ‘Government policy tends to be generic/large-scale and doesn’t relate to regional differences – for example the density requirement from PPG3 is forcing a South East solution on the whole country.’
  • ‘SPGs can vary greatly between authorities, even between London Boroughs.‘
  • ‘Building users (both home owners and companies) tend not to care about their fuel bills as they are such a small part of the overall costs of living/business.’
  • ‘Complexity of s106 agreements’
  • ‘There is a need for education on a range of levels – at national political level, for development control officers, for planners themselves, for specifiers, developers, for local businesses, the general public, and the supply chain.‘
  • ‘Lack of feedback from successful schemes’
  • ‘There is a need for lifestyle change / political change to get practical developments’
  • ‘Currently seen as ‘hippyish’’


Please note this project is closed and this site is simply an archive for informational purposes only

Other links in this section

Development Economics
Note on Whole Life Costing
Professionals' Perspective
Planning Mechanisms
The Planning Framework