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Inside the black box: unravelling the development viability appraisal process

McAllister, P., Street, E. and Wyatt, P., (2013) Inside the black box: unravelling the development viability appraisal process. Working Papers in Real Estate & Planning. 12/13. Working Paper. University of Reading, Reading. pp35.

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Over the last decade issues related to the financial viability of development have become increasingly important to the English planning system. As part of a wider shift towards the compartmentalisation of planning tasks, expert consultants are required to quantify, in an attempt to rationalise, planning decisions in terms of economic ‘viability’. Often with a particular focus on planning obligations, the results of development viability modelling have emerged as a key part of the evidence base used in site-specific negotiations and in planning policy formation. Focussing on the role of clients and other stakeholders, this paper investigates how development viability is tested in practice. It draws together literature on the role of calculative practices in policy formation, client feedback and influence in real estate appraisals and stakeholder engagement and consultation in the planning literature to critically evaluate the role of clients and other interest groups in influencing the production and use of development viability appraisal models. The paper draws upon semi-structured interviews with the main producers of development viability appraisals to conclude that, whilst appraisals have the potential to be biased by client and stakeholder interests, there are important controlling influences on potential opportunistic behaviour. One such control is local authorities’ weak understanding of development viability appraisal techniques which limits their capacity to question the outputs of appraisal models. However, this also is of concern given that viability is now a central feature of the town planning system.

Item Type:Report (Working Paper)
Divisions:Henley Business School > Real Estate and Planning
ID Code:35154
Uncontrolled Keywords:Development viability appraisal, calculative practice, client influence, stakeholder consultation.
Publisher:University of Reading
Publisher Statement:The copyright of each Working Paper remains with the author. If you wish to quote from or cite any Paper please contact the appropriate author. In some cases a more recent version of the paper may have been published elsewhere.


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