The concepts and visions of sustainable development that have emerged in the post-Brundtland era are explored in terms laying the foundations for a common vision of sustainable urban development (SUD). The described vision and methodology for SUD resulted from the activities of an international network called BEQUEST, funded by the European Commission. The project involved building consensus over the language and vision of SUD across a wide range of stakeholders in the urban environment and across a range of spatial and temporal scales, development activities and environmental and social issues. The resulting vision of SUD is that of a relative, adaptive process in which the current urban fabric is gradually adapted over time to suit more sustainable lifestyles. A framework for structuring information on SUD has been developed which provides a unique, integrated representation of the scope and extent of the subject that links together socio-economic and technical dimensions as well as planning, property, design and construction interests, in time and space. Impediments to implementation of the vision and method are explored, including lack of demand, lack of capacity, absence of agreed targets and indicators together with other policy problems undermining full sustainability assessment and evaluation of urban re/development proposals.