Policy Development

Local authorities are increasingly required to support their housing requirements with evidence which is driven by viability considerations. Authorities are supposed to have realistic and tested policies for a range of housing related objectives including Affordable Housing, education, open space and other Section 106 requirements.
AGA has extensive experience in the following types of study:

  • Affordable Housing Viability Studies;
  • Whole Plan Testing Viability Studies;
  • CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) Viability Studies;
  • Good Practice Guidance;
  • Housing Land Availability Studies;
  • Urban Capacity Studies;
  • Strategic Housing Market Assessments.

 Site specific viability assessments

The development of policy is the key starting point for the delivery of housing in the right quantity and of the right type. Policy will normally set targets and trigger points for the delivery of Affordable Housing and in the case of CIL, costs per square metre to fund other elements of infrastructure.

However, policy development is relatively ‘high level’ and this is recognised in national policy; hence often a site specific viability assessment is needed if an applicant makes a case that the particular scheme being applied for cannot meet the local authority’s policy in terms of the housing being required.

AGA can assess virtually any type of development scheme for viability. Some examples include:

  • Large brown field mixed use schemes (often higher density);
  • Large green field schemes (typically family type housing);
  • Smaller schemes in urban and rural areas covering regeneration through to rural exception sites.

The approach adopted by the company with respect to scheme assessments is entirely consistent and broadly looks at the financial relationship between the residual value generated by the scheme and the land value benchmark for the site. The company is retained by several local authorities but has also assessed schemes on behalf of most of the major UK house builders as well as for smaller builders and individual land owners.

 Development appraisal software – ‘Toolkits’

Dr Golland was a founder developer of the GLA’s (Greater London Authority’s) ‘Toolkit’, a software model developed in 2001 to test the then London Plan for viability. The model was then subsequently developed as a development control tool, for the purposes of assessing individual schemes.

A number of other Toolkits emanated from the initial one; notably the Wales DAT (Development Appraisal Toolkit) which is used extensively across Wales. Other Toolkits have been developed for consortia or individual local authorities.

The software, which owes its development to a very significant extent, to Dr Adam Watkins, is highly regarded for its ease of use and for the default or benchmark data which populates the software and which users can adopt where a developer provides only limited information for assessment.

Dr Watkins and Dr Golland continue to develop software for the emerging development market.