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Title: The developer in question : a comparative analysis of real estate developers in Modderfontein, Johannesburg and London's Royal Docks
Author: Brill, Frances
ISNI:       0000 0004 7964 9514
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis analyses how real estate developers navigate urban governance in London's Royal Docks and Modderfontein, Johannesburg. The research draws on elite interviews, primarily with private sector actors, document analysis and participant observation. Throughout, it employs a comparative approach which brings the two case studies into conversation, revealing and drawing insights from instances of repetition, differences, and tracing connections which stretch across the two contexts. The thesis examines the way globalised urban processes interact with highly specific practices of local governance. It begins by addressing the question, 'what is the developer?', juxtaposing media depictions with real estate professionals' perceptions of developers and their practices. In doing so, this thesis argues that the developer is best conceptualised in a way which moves between an understanding of them as a set of contractualised responsibilities and functions, and as the outcome of a network of interactions within a wider consultant team. The research focuses on the developer's role during planning permission application, and reveals the extent to which developer agency is shaped through interactions with the state. For the developers, meeting (and shaping) policy goals is shown to require a vast consultant team, who serve as experts to inform policy compliance. These teams necessitate strong leadership and co-ordination by the developer. In mediating different understandings of the urban environment, this thesis reveals the complexity of developer motivations, demonstrating the importance of moving past conceptualisations of them as purely profit seeking agents. That said, profit remains important, necessitating risk management tactics, part of developers' relational and territorialised work, enabling them to leverage local knowledge. Such knowledge is shown to be particularly important in globalised projects, where developers must work with local firms or individuals and integrate into the 'club' of local real estate to be effective.
Supervisor: Robinson, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available