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Financial Viability Appraisal in Planning Decisions: Theory and Practice

In England, appraisals of the financial viability of development schemes have become an integral part of planning policy-making, initially in determining the amount of planning obligations that might be obtained via legal agreements (known as Section 106 agreements) and latterly as a basis for establishing charging schedules for the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Local planning authorities set these policies on an area-wide basis but ultimately development proposals require consent on a site-by site basis. It is at this site-specific level that issues of viability are hotly contested. This research examined case documents, proofs of evidence and decisions from a sample of planning disputes in order to address major issues within development viability, the application of the models and the distribution of the development gain between the developer, landowner and community. The results have specific application to viability assessment in England and should impact on future policy and practice guidance in this field. They also have relevance to other countries that incorporate assessments of economic viability in their planning systems.

This research project was funded by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors