Actors in the built environment are progressively considering environmental and social issues alongside functional and economic aspects of development projects. Infrastructure projects represent major investment and construction initiatives with attendant environmental, economic and societal impacts across multiple scales. To date, while sustainability strategies and frameworks have focused on wider national aspirations and strategic objectives, they are noticeably weak in addressing micro-level integrated decision making in the built environment, particularly for infrastructure projects. The proposed approach of this paper is based on the principal that early intervention is the most cost-effective and efficient means of mitigating the environmental effects of development projects, particularly macro infrastructure developments. A strategic overview of the various project alternatives, taking account for stakeholder and expert input, could effectively reduce project impacts/risks at low cost to the project developers but provide significant benefit to wider communities, including communities of future stakeholders. This paper is the first exploratory step in developing a more systematic framework for evaluating strategic alternatives for major metropolitan infrastructure projects, based on key sustainability principles. The developed Strategic Project Appraisal (SPA) framework, grounded in the theory of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), provides a means of practically appraising project impacts and alternatives in terms of quantified ecological limits; addresses the neglected topic of metropolitan infrastructure as a means of delivering sustainability outcomes in the urban context and more broadly, seeks to open a debate on the potential for SEA methodology to be more extensively applied to address sustainability challenges in the built environment. Practically applied and timed appropriately, the SPA framework can enable better decision-making and more efficient resource allocation ensuring low impact infrastructure development.