Speaking at the Delivering Sustainable Communities Summit in Manchester, Mr Prescott said he wanted to use the UK presidency of the EU to set up a new-Europe-wide framework for creating places where people want to live.

“We are in a new era where East and West are coming together. There is a new political order and a new commitment to do things differently. The UK’s presidency will be an opportunity to discuss a European approach to creating sustainable communities. Such thinking could create a new framework to consider the emerging regional policy,” Mr Prescott said.

At the heart of his initiative is the UK’s new academy for Sustainable Communities, also launched in Manchester.

The summit saw a number of initiatives launched, including a new policy blueprint to deliver sustainable communities through the reformed planning system.

Minister for Planning, Keith Hill said that PPS1 ‘Delivering sustainable development’ would provide an important, over arching policy framework which should help improve people’s lives and the places where they live, while protecting the environment at the same time.

“We are putting stronger emphasis on good design, reflecting the importance that the Government attaches to ensuring high quality design is delivered through the planning system. PPS1 makes clear that good design is integral to good planning in delivering safe, inclusive and successful communities,” Mr Hill said.

The new blueprint would ensure far greater community involvement, Mr Hill added, so that local people can say what sort of place they want to live in at an early stage, when their voice can make a real difference.

It also reflects the duty on regional and local planning bodies to contribute towards sustainable development when preparing development plans, as required by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

In addition, Mr Hill launched a Best Practice guide to encourage local planning authorities to make better use of their powers to tackle unsightly or derelict land and buildings, as well as regulations to change the planning arrangements for restaurants, pubs, takeaways and nightclubs to give people a bigger say about the evening economy in their local area.

By David Hopkins

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