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Governing calculative practices: An investigation of development viability modelling in the English planning system

McAllister, P., Street, E. and Wyatt, P. (2016) Governing calculative practices: An investigation of development viability modelling in the English planning system. Urban Studies, 53 (11). pp. 2363-2379. ISSN 1360-063X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/0042098015589722


Over the last decade the English planning system has placed greater emphasis on the financial viability of development. ‘Calculative’ practices have been used to quantify and capture land value uplifts. Development viability appraisal (DVA) has become a key part of the evidence base used in planning decision-making and informs both ‘site-specific’ negotiations about the level of land value capture for individual schemes and ‘area-wide’ planning policy formation. This paper investigates how implementation of DVA is governed in planning policy formation. It is argued that the increased use of DVA raises important questions about how planning decisions are made and operationalised, not least because DVA is often poorly understood by some key stakeholders. The paper uses the concept of governance to thematically analyse semi-structured interviews conducted with the producers of DVAs and considers key procedural issues including (in)consistencies in appraisal practices, levels of stakeholder consultation and the potential for client and producer bias. Whilst stakeholder consultation is shown to be integral to the appraisal process in order to improve the quality of the appraisals and to legitimise the outputs, participation is restricted to industry experts and excludes some interest groups, including local communities. It is concluded that, largely because of its recent adoption and knowledge asymmetries between local planning authorities and appraisers, DVA is a weakly governed process characterised by emerging and contested guidance and is therefore ‘up for grabs’.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Real Estate and Planning
ID Code:40914

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