URBAN5037: understand the process of real estate development in relation to its broader social, economic, legal, and political context: Development Process Case Study, UOG, UK

Dec 11, 2023


Subject URBAN5037: Development Process


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The aim of this course is to enable you to understand the process of real estate development in relation to its broader social, economic, legal, and political context.This course is designed to ground a practical understanding of real estate development within a strong theoretical framework


This course is designed to ground a practical understanding of real estate development within a strong theoretical framework. On the first day of the course, you will be introduced to a vacant site in Glasgow city center and set the challenge of devising a realistic development proposal within two months. To assist you, key aspects of the development process will be covered in lectures, seminars, and, crucially, in your own directed reading. You will be introduced to the software package that you will use to illustrate your proposal.

You will also find extensive learning resources available on Moodle to support your work and will have the chance to meet with tutors individually to receive direct feedback on your emerging ideas. For some students, the course is linked to Development Economics, in which you may subsequently be expected to analyze your development proposal financially.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

• Appreciate how the demand for housing, commercial and mixed-use development products, and the supply of development opportunities are driven by social, economic, and political change

• Understand the roles played by different actors in the development process and assess the potential for collaboration or conflict between them

• Appreciate the significance of development constraints and evaluate different ways in which they might be overcome

• Apply policy and market research to selecting appropriate developments

• Test alternative forms of site development in relation to their acceptability, marketability, and suitability.

The minimum requirement for the award of credit for students on MSc City Planning, MSc City Planning & Real Estate Development, MSc International Real Estate & Management, and MSc Real Estate is D3 or above.

The program specification is available at:


University Regulations can be found at:


Teaching Methods

Teaching methods include recorded lectures, seminar exercises, visiting speaker presentations, and practical work. You are expected to carry out prior reading. Course teaching is predicated on the notion of active learning and therefore depends upon students acting as independent learners by accumulating knowledge and increasing understanding throughout the course, to be applied in the course assessment.


All lectures have been recorded and are available for you to download on the course Moodle site. The intention is that you are able to access these at your convenience, providing that you view them prior to the scheduled seminars. Accordingly, the timetable on page 4 lists lectures alongside seminars in the order in which all teaching materials should be accessed.


Seminars will be conducted face-to-face and online at scheduled hours and require your attendance. The seminars on 1st October, 15th October, and 29th October will be run in separate groups, with activities taking place in seminar rooms and in Zoom breakout sessions. All groups, whether in person or online, will complete group wikis on Moodle.

You will be assigned to a group on Moodle before the 1st October seminar. Seminars take place in one-hour slots scheduled between 10 am and 1 pm. Before the 1st October seminar, you will be allocated to a group, with time slots and rooms for each group within each seminar posted on Moodle. Those of you not in Glasgow will be assigned to an online seminar group and given Zoom links to these sessions.

For online groups, please note that to use the breakout room function in Zoom you must have a Zoom account and must be accessing it using either the Zoom desktop client or mobile app. Breakout rooms do not function for participants who join the meeting using the Zoom web client.

Site visit

Our site, which we will continually refer back to throughout the course, and which will form the backdrop to your assignment, is bounded by King Street, Osborne Street, Stockwell Street, Howard Street and Bridgegate, in Glasgow, G1 5QT.

It is presently in use as a surface car park and is located adjacent to the St. Enoch Shopping Centre. While current University policy prevents us from visiting the site as a group, you must – if possible – make your own arrangements to visit alone or in small groups and are advised otherwise to make extensive use of Google Street View and 3D View to explore the site and its surrounding area. The site is shown within the red dotted line on the map below.


Friday 24 September

1000-1100 Lecture Topic 1: The development process

1100-1200 Lecture Topic 2: Implementation of development

Friday 1 October

0900-1000 Lecture Topic 3: Development case studies

1000-1300 Seminar 1 (live) Creating successful places

Friday 8 October

0900-0930 Lecture Topic 4: Commercial developers and investors

0930-1000 Lecture Topic 5: Residential developers

Friday 15 October

0900-1000 Lecture Topic 6: Landowners and development

1000-1300 Seminar 2 (live) Development constraints evaluation

Friday 22 October

0900-0930 Lecture Topic 7: Strategic market analysis

0930-1000 Lecture Topic 8: Planning and policy analysis

1100-1300 Guest lecture (live) Matt Bellshaw (Henry Boot Developments)

Friday 29 October

0900-0930 Lecture Topic 9: Understanding relations between development actors & markets

0930-1000 Lecture Topic 10: The key to a successful project

1000-1300 Seminar 3 (live) Assessing alternative schemes for the site

Realizing Your Design

As part of the assignment, you will illustrate your development proposal in the form of a visual design. At this stage in the program you are not expected to have much in the way of design skills and it is not your design or visualization skills that are being tested here. Rather it is your understanding and appreciation of placemaking from a planning and real estate development perspective.

You may simply wish to draw your design using pencil and paper, but you can also use any graphics software that you choose. We have made CityCAD, as a simple but professional piece of urban design software, available to students for this purpose. If you choose to use CityCAD (which is available free of charge on a temporary basis for Windows 10 computers.

and which we can make available for non-Windows users via remote desktop) you have access to a range of online written and video tutorials.

which you can use in order to develop your skills, and can view a video produced for last year’s cohort by Chris Sharpe of Holistic City Ltd, developers of CityCAD, on the course Moodle page. You can also access a range of tutorials for developing graphics skills related to mapping and urban design at

International Perspectives

Although the course is primarily based on UK experience, its principles are widely applicable in many countries. Many students taking this course come from countries beyond the UK and are encouraged to share perspectives from their own experience in discussions, seminars and workshops. All students, however, are encouraged to learn more about real estate development beyond the UK and, to do so, are recommended to

consult the following book, which contains ten chapters on real estate development in countries across the world:

Squires, G. and Heurkens, E (2015) (eds) International Approach to Real Estate Development, Routledge, London.

Your report should cover the four main areas set out below while incorporating within the text such as maps, graphs, photographs, diagrams and other illustrative material as you

consider appropriate:

1. Area and Site Analysis: You are expected to evaluate both the potential of the area, the site, and possible impediments to its development. This assessment should have two clear elements:

(i) An analysis of the immediate area within which the site is located, identifying key land uses and any significant recent developments, along with any facilities or attractions you consider advantageous; and showing the wider connectivity of the site to the city center and broader conurbation. You are strongly recommended to illustrate your analysis with maps and photographs.

(ii) An analysis of any site-specific physical and infrastructural constraints that might impede development feasibility at the site, together with an assessment of their severity and, where relevant, of how they might best be remedied.

Specifically, you should identify the extent to which future use of the site might be impeded by factors such as difficult ground conditions, the impact of surrounding uses or buildings, air pollution, traffic or other noise, or possible restrictions on vehicular or pedestrian access.

2. Development Context: You are expected to investigate what kind of development is likely to be both acceptable in policy terms and in demand at this location. This assessment should again have two clear elements:

(i) Detailed thematic analysis of relevant planning policies. This should provide a rounded evaluation of what the public authorities may wish to see happen at the site, rather than simply list the contents of particular policy documents. You should concentrate mainly on Glasgow City Council’s City Development Plan (2017), but you should also make reference, where relevant, to the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Strategic Development Plan (2017), Scottish Planning Policy (2014), and Scotland’s National Planning Framework 3 (2014).

To avoid repetition, your analysis should identify the key planning themes that apply to the site (for example, ‘achieving place quality’), referencing the particular policies to which these themes can be traced in the above documents. Crucially, if you find particular types of development would not be permitted at this location, you should make this very clear.

(ii) Detailed factual analysis of property market conditions. You should draw on information from at least two recently published property market reports to assess the current supply and demand, and likely future market trends, for different property types at this location.

This should include information, as appropriate, on property values/prices, rents, yields, and occupancy/vacancy levels. Rather than assume that current market conditions will necessarily continue in the future, you should assess how they might change over your development period.

You should seek to convey as much of your information as possible through graphs, tables, or other illustrative means. Although your analysis should concentrate on providing a detailed market justification for the property type(s) included in your proposal, it should also include some brief evidence to explain why you have excluded other property type(s).

While it is recommended that you first report on these two elements separately, you should then synthesize their implications to justify your overall development proposal. One simple way to do this would be to summarise Section 2 in a SWOT analysis.

3. Development Proposal: An indicative development proposal, fully explained in the text and supported by CityCAD, other design software, or pencil and paper illustrations. This should establish the preferred layout, uses, height and massing of what you think might best be built on the site, together with indicative arrangements for access, servicing, and car parking. A schedule of accommodation should be provided, showing the total amount of space to be devoted to each use.

The illustrations should comprise a two-dimensional layout plan showing the footprint of the proposed development, and between 2 and 5 three-dimensional visualizations/computer-generated images of what you propose. These are not intended to show a fully-fledged development scheme, still less a detailed design. Instead, you are expected to indicate at a very broad level how your proposed development will be accommodated on the site and, in doing so, how it represents an effective use of the site. If you consider that your development would be likely to be built out in different phases, you should explain and justify your proposed phasing within the text and show it in the illustrations.

4. Development Consortium: Your clients wish to share potential risks by attracting one or more development partners. This could involve, for example, establishing a joint-venture development company with others to promote a comprehensive scheme for the whole site, or maybe breaking the site up so that different partners can build out different parcels. In any event, your clients are looking for an exit strategy at the end of the development period, as they do not themselves wish to hold the completed development as a long-term investment. They, therefore, want to know how best to attract a long-term property investor to the site.

This could include, for example, a developer-investor or investor-developer, wishing to participate in the development itself.

You should therefore explain and justify the type(s) of development partner(s) you would recommend to your clients, while not identifying any particular named company. (Professional consultancies such as architects, engineers, and surveyors should not be included unless, exceptionally, they share development risk). To support your recommendation, you should construct a simple diagram showing the intended relationships between all the partners identified.

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