The role of planning in property and real estate markets is designed to co-ordinate the efficient use of resources, being the limited supply of land either vacant or improved. Another critical objective is to restrict conflicting land uses from being located directly next to each other, such as building a new oil refinery next to an existing residential area. The process of planning involves many stakeholders who are both directly and indirectly associated with the proposed development. While some cities are criticised for planning legislation which is too prescriptive and generally considered too inflexible, other cities have a complete absence of planning where the market determines land use and development takes place on an ad hoc basis. A successful property developer will understand the concept of planning. While planning legislation is commonly at the local level a developer should understand all aspects of planning law which have the potential to affect land use and the development potential of a particular site.

Planning policy is constantly evolving in response to both environmental and political factors such as the increasing importance of sustainability in the built environment and the broader society. In many countries it is necessary for developers to obtain an individual planning consent for virtually every property development project. It is beyond the scope of this book to cover in detail all aspects of the planning system and readers are referred to other texts for further reading. The aim of this chapter is to provide an appreciation of the principals involved in the planning process which are a vital part of development practice. The planning process and the associated legislation will ultimately determine the type of development allowed on any site and thus influence the value of the completed development. Criticisms are often that the planning system and process adds uncertainty to development in the form of time delays, potential cost increases and at times, unpredictable decisions which may even be overturned on appeal. These are issues that concern developers who have in the past misunderstood the time and resources required to progress through the planning process before any development can actually begin.