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Conflict in the land development process : The role of the private residential developer

Craven, Edward (1970) Conflict in the land development process : The role of the private residential developer. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94288) (KAR id:94288)

Language: English

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The main arguments of this thesis are as follows. Residential expansion is a major feature of London's metropolitan growth. The classical ecological approach tends to stress the inevitability of such expansion under the impact of major environmental changes. However, it is argued that the city region is characterized by overt conflict about the use of land, not unconscious consensus. Such conflict is partly a reflection of a societal dichotomy between market and plan; in the South East, such conflict is crystallized into the relationship between the local planning authority with its restrictive policies as regards land release, and the land-hungry private residential developer. Because of the negative nature of planning policies and machinery, the developer has become a major agent of change and a key decision-maker in the urban system.

A sample survey of planning applications showed that the physical pattern of development created by the developers was strongly associated with the changing structure of the housebuilding industry: the large regional developer has become much more important, through the building of large estates, than the small local developer since the middle fifties. However, a basic requirement of all developers is to obtain knowledge of essentially local housing, "planning" and land markets, the latter being especially important due to the shortage of land. An interview study of developers was undertaken to show how different types of developer related to these local markets, with particular attention being paid to how the large developer, organized at a regional or sub-regional scale, was able to obtain knowledge of such local markets.

Three types of developer were distinguished: the stagnant entrepreneur operating at the most local level; the growing company which was attempting to expand out of local markets, and the regional developer. The organization of the company and the attitude of the entrepreneur to organizational change more important variables in this classification. For the stagnant entrepreneur, problems were associated with staying inside known local markets with which his organization is ideally suited to cope. For the growing company, organizational change had to be accepted in order to get outside local markets in the process of growth. For the large regional developer, the problem was to get inside local markets yet still retain the advantages of large-scale operations. The study suggests that one of the major processes behind the residential expansion of the London metropolitan region has been the success of the large developer in this respect. Particularly important in this success were a growing reliance on the local estate agent, on forward buying of white land, routinization of data-gathering, a regionalisation of the organizational structure, and an increasingly professional input into its relationship with local planning authorities.

Finally, it is suggested that the examination of key decision-agents such as the private developer is a fruitful approach to understanding urban growth and a necessary prelude to any study of urban development in a specific local context. Moreover, the findings have direct implications for controlling urban growth, both for sub-regional urban form and for the success of policies of concentration at a regional scale.

However, certain modifications to the market/plan concept are needed as a result of the empirical research. The small local developer is as much a risk - avoiding organisation as one dedicated to rapid growth and maximum profits. Moreover, the local district councils often define their interests narrowly in terms of the local community and as such are as much market actors as the developers themselves. Also, the regional level in the planning hierarchy has been virtually absent for much of the 1950's and 1960's. This has limited the scope for the enforcement of the wider public interest on to lower levels in the hierarchy.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94288
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Economics
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2023 15:34 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2023 15:34 UTC
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