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Planning Risk and Development

How Greater Planning Certainty Would Affect Residential Development

Qualitative research into the widely held assumption that planning risk is a key contributor to sluggish housing supply. It found that moving towards permission in plan (e.g. zoning) is not a silver bullet solution to speeding up housing supply. Conducted by the Bartlett School of Planning and London School of Economics.

The primary aim of this research was to investigate whether it is possible to reduce uncertainty through the plan-making process through 'permission in plan'. This involves allowing local planning authorities to grant planning permission on land when drawing up local plans (thus eliminating the need for developers to apply for permission). If so, what would the implications of this be for land owners, land values, developer behaviour and profit margins, LPAs, and house prices?

The final report includes an analysis of permission in plan in general as well as existing attempts to move towards it (like Permission in Principle). It considers where permission in plan might be most helpful and what kinds of issues it would likely face.

It looks at what planning risk is, and how it is experienced by different types of developers. For example some market actors actively choose to work with high planning risk in the pursuit of high returns. Whilst for large housebuilders it may be less of a problem as they can spread the risk over many sites.

It is based on over 20 interviews with planners, developers and other experts, as well as two workshops designed to test early findings.

Finally, it represents one of the first major analyses of Permission in Principle.

This work was conducted by a joint team led by Dr Claudio de Magalhães, The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, and Professor Christine Whitehead, London School of Economics.

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