RIBA president George Ferguson is lobbying deputy prime minister John Prescott and planning minister Keith Hill to adjust the planning system to ensure the government’s new communities are sustainable.

Ferguson wants the planning guidance the ODPM gives out to local authorities to include a list of requirements for “exemplar communities” that planners can check off against new development.

He called for the government to harden up its new planning policy statements with more definite requirements. This could include a demand for new communities to set aside 30% of office space for independent businesses, so an area would not be swamped by chain stores.

He also called for guidance to prevent development going ahead without appropriate infrastructure.

He said: “I’ve been talking to ministers to try and set down limitations on planning for new homes to ensure other uses and services are used. We have exemplar schools and hospitals - why not exemplar communities?”

At present the planning policy statements, such as PPS1, simply affirm the government’s commitment to mixed communities.

Ferguson likened the type of development he would like to see with the area around his Tobacco Factory development in Bristol, which has regenerated the area through mixed-use development and independent businesses.

“We want some way of preventing areas being taken over by multiples,” he added.