Planning obligations : a development perspective
This research aims to examine planning obligations, by answering if and how they
affect property development and who pays for them. Planning obligations require
developers to make in-kind or cash cont~butions p~or to the granting of planning
consent. Uniquely in the UK, developers negotiate with local authoritie~ over the
extent and scope of these contributions. The foci of this research relate to questions
of who pays for planning obligations; what are the economic impacts of planning
obligations on development;· and do local authoIjties and . developers have
conflicting views during their negotiations? Planning obligations are a topical
policy issue, as the Government is proposing to change the way they are
The theoretical framework has two themes relating to the principles of land value
taxation and development charges (a generic term for planning obligations), and to
negotiation theories that explore the conditions under which satisfactory
agreements can be reached. This research contributes to a significant gap in the UK
literature when compared to the more economic approaches common in United
States and elsewhere. The approach is also innovative because it introduces
negotiation theories to the understanding of the current framework of planning
obligations. Theories are discussed and elaborated within the context of case studies
of recent practice in the Southern England borough councils of Basingstoke and
Deane, Bracknell Forest, Fareham, Medway, Rushmoor and Test Valley.
The thesis consists of four parts. The first part introduces the concept of developer
charges and the specific British context of planning obligations. The second part
investigates the economics of land taxation and development charges, and it
identifies the applicable negotiation theories within an institutional framework.
The third part sets out the methodology and the findings of the case study analysis.
That analysis is based on detailed questionnaire results and interview findings
aimed at revealing planners' and developers' views with regard to planning
obligations and their negotiation strategies. Finally, the implications of the findings
are discussed. It is argued that planning obligations do affect property
development. Many planners think that developers alone bear the burden of this
tax, rather than other agents. As a result of this and other factors, it is concluded
that the present local institutional arrangements for negotiating planning
obligations are unlikely to achieve optimum results.