It seems that the government's National Planning Policy Framework now has sustainable development's being seen in terms of a (local) collective interest. This is a quote from the Telegraph's on-line reporting of the 5 principles of reform:
They establish a presumption in favour of sustainable development that means that "development is not held up unless to approve it would be against our collective interest
... which is all rather negative, but encouraging, perhaps, such that a well used green space conveying considerable community benefit over time, might have more protection than before.
Clearly it does not mean development is not approved unless it's in the collective interest. Now that would be quite a step.