UK: Development - The Reality Of Delivery

Last Updated: 9 February 2011
Article by Murray Shaw


Over the past 5 years the Scottish planning system has gone through significant change all intended to make that system more effective and fit for purpose. While those changes were not initiated by the current minority Government, they accepted the process that was ongoing when they came into power and followed it through, essentially as a tool in achieving their over arching purpose of "creating a more successful country, through increasing sustainable economic growth".

Their aspirations in that regard to a large extent have been overtaken by a significant deterioration in the UK and global economy. It is salutary to think that just 3 or 4 years ago there were aspirations in Scotland to construct an economy that was as dynamic and significant as those found in Iceland and Ireland – 2 countries with very severe economic problems now.

While the economic downturn has had significant effects throughout the economy, the development industry has been hit to a much greater extent that other parts of the economy, with a number of key players becoming insolvent and others significantly scaling back their activities. In particular residential building rates are at their lowest in decades and the value of commercial property which is of critical significance has materially reduced with real problems for the Banks in particular. Many jobs have been lost in the sector and there are real concerns about skill shortages in the future.

Despite the changes to the planning system many (particularly those in the development industry) still see planning as an impediment to development. Even those who may not have the most extreme views in that context are concerned that the system is still too slow and cumbersome – the particular concern is that when the market turns back up if the planning system is not operating more effectively it may (or will) be an impediment to recovery.

Development & Infrastructure Partners Group

Partly in response to these views the Scottish Government set up in 2009 a Development & Infrastructure Partners Group which has representatives from a number of bodies interested in the development process (including Heads of Planning, Local Authority Chief Executives, COSLA, Scottish Property Federation and Homes for Scotland). An early objective in this group was to try and understand what issues did in fact block development in Scotland and to address these.

Arrangements were made for GVA Grimley (a consultant active in the field) to gather information for the Development & Infrastructure Partners Group. GVA carried out detailed research and investigations and as a consequence of that identified a number of areas where work was necessary. Some of these were almost at a "micro level" (such as the process in relation to agreeing Section 75 Agreements) while others were much more at the macro level including the lack of funding for key infrastructure projects, the lack of funding and finance in the market generally and a failure within Councils to understand development viability.

Development Delivery & Viability

As a consequence of this work the Scottish Government published on 30 December 2010 a paper entitled "Development, Delivery & Viability". Hopefully the date this paper was published was happenchance and not a deliberate attempt to bury it in the festive period!

The report identifies 10 critical recommendations from GVA and the Government's response to these.

The key 10 recommendations were as follows:-

  1. The Government should emphasis planning's role in stimulating property and development generally and the benefits of the economic growth that thereby results.
  2. The Government should continue to ensure that local authority staff have a better appreciation of development economics and development viability to ensure that developments are delivered.
  3. Given the difficulties with upfront Bank borrowing (or the lack of it) the Government should investigate additional and different sources of funding including potentially playing a role in attracting equity investors.
  4. Given the difficulties in funding upfront infrastructure the Government should investigate providing a funding stream to allow such infrastructure to be provided, the Government being repaid as development takes place.
  5. The Government should look to provide greater simplicity and clarity in relation to Section 75 Agreements with a view to speeding up the development process and giving developers greater certainty as to what is to be expected of them.
  6. The Government should consider publishing and reviewing annually an Infrastructure Plan.
  7. Better guidance should be given with a view to improving place selection, the intention being to ensure that areas selected for development should actually have a realistic capability of being developed.
  8. The Government should consider forming a central infrastructure team to play a role in co-ordinating activity with an appropriate level of knowledge.
  9. The Government should consider undertaking further work or a methodology to ensure Master Plans develop in tandem with Business Plans.
  10. The issue of "development delivery" should be considered as another stream of the planning modernisation agenda in Scotland.

As the paper identifies there are no straightforward solutions and indeed some of the issues identified (referred to above) are "big issues". However it is not good enough simply to say "it's the economy stupid" (to misquote an American President) and await for the economy to get back on course. The extent of the downturn and the experience of the Banks in the downturn suggests there will be some fundamental differences in the way in which development takes place in the future – it seems unlikely going forward (for example) that upfront Bank borrowing will be such a predominant source of funding for new development.

The report indicates that there is a need for collaborative working between all parts of the development industry with a view to encouraging a positive mentality and placing Scotland to ensure that when the upturn comes Scotland benefits to the fullest extent.


While the research work was undertaken by GVA in publishing the paper the Scottish Government has indicated the action it has taken or will be taking to address the recommendations made. It is fair to say that rather more progress has been made in respect of some of these than with others. Without being unduly critical the response suggests that there is a lot of discussion going on and a fair amount of work in progress but limited tangible outcomes. In some instances given the current spending cuts it is difficult for the Scottish Government to act unilaterally. There are no easy solutions to the need for development finance and the Scottish Government cannot invent one in isolation. Given however that the recommendations from the GVA work are recommendations which come with the support of the Development & Infrastructure Partners Group which clearly acts at a high level and has representation from all sides of the development industry, active progress with the recommendations made will be to the benefit of Scotland and in reality is probably essential for the future financial wellbeing of the country.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.