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Ferguson craves clarity

George Ferguson will call on the government to produce a definition of the much-used term 'sustainability' when he speaks at the Labour Party Conference today.

The RIBA president will also appeal to the government to draw on the experience of architects as it sets about its massive programme of house building.

Planning minister Keith Hill will share the podium at the fringe event, 'Towards better buildings - green housing or the greenhouse?', which has been organised by think tank the Fabian Society.

'The bill contains no definition of sustainability, ' Ferguson will say. 'We need one. And we need a definition of sustainability that contains design quality at its core. Design quality and sustainability should be inextricably linked.'

'Sustainability is such a broadly used and abused word, ' Ferguson told the AJ. 'A word that's used so much by so many people in different ways almost gives an invitation to fudge.'

'My theme is let's get physical, ' he added. 'I'd like to see a definition that puts a focus on place-making.'

Ferguson will also repeat the plea for an aspirational planning policy 'that not just prevents the bad but genuinely encourages the good', for 'intelligent and innovative masterplanning' and 'good design to filter down through every level of the process'.

'Our message to the government is fiplease use us architectsfl, ' he will conclude.

'Only through good design can you get the message across that the Communities Plan is not about turning the South East into a housing estate. Only good design will create communities that are loved, that work, and that are sustainable.'

Also speaking at the event will be Phillip Sellwood, chief executive at the Energy Saving Trust, and Robert Ashmead, chief executive of the House Builders Federation.

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