Garden communities toolkit

Delivery mechanisms

At an early stage in your project, you should explore the mechanisms and options available for delivery of your garden community.

A clear delivery model will create confidence in investors and stakeholders.

It can also shape the approach to governance.

What to consider before deciding your delivery structure

  • objectives and outcomes you want to achieve and any potential barriers to delivery that need to be addressed

  • what additional control or influence over and above statutory planning controls will be necessary to achieve those objectives

  • extent to which individual land parcels have been assembled for development and a master developer is in place

  • effectiveness of the working relationship with the landowners/ developers involved and extent to which objectives and ambitions for the garden community are aligned

  • opportunities to make the garden community proposition more commercially attractive to the private sector to support delivery

  • expectations and mechanism(s) for land value capture and long-term stewardship of the garden community

  • public sector appetite and opportunity to invest in delivery of the garden community

  •  motivations and drivers for landowners to put forward their sites to be developed as part of a garden community

  • the nature of any developer or commercial interest in the garden community landholding. These may include:

    • option agreements where a landowner agrees a developer can buy their land subject to obtaining a planning permission, formalised in an options agreement

    • land promotion agreements, in which the developer seeks the planning consent for development, and then offers the land for sale on the open market

    • developer agreements and collaboration agreements where two or more parties agree to work jointly to bring a development proposal forward

    • equalisation agreements where all landowners/ developers involved get a fair return for including their land in the development. This is regardless of what use it is specifically allocated for, or when it might be developed

Types of delivery mechanisms

Use of statutory planning mechanisms

This is where each party works collaboratively to achieve agreed outcomes using their specific role and function in the delivery process.

It relies on a robust planning policy framework, agreed masterplan and delivery strategy supplemented by a good governance structure, design and delivery review process, planning conditions and Section 106 Obligations to guide consistent and high-quality development.


  • effective use of existing planning powers and policy frameworks/ strategies 

  • existing governance structures can be maintained and no additional levels of bureaucracy added

  • the local authority can exercise other tools at their disposal, including compulsory purchase order powers


  • requires strong collaboration with private sector delivery bodies over the long term to ensure development is of the right quality and meets garden community objectives


  • make sure planning policy, masterplans, planning permission strategies and S106 agreements are in place and can deliver the development to the quality and pace required

  • there a single lead promoter or master developer in place to coordinate land assembly and drive delivery and liaise with the local authority

  • the development is viable and deliverable and there is an equalisation or other agreement among the developers involved about who will deliver what

  • there is limited risk of the development stalling or not being delivered to the agreed pace

  • there is a strong collaborative working relationship between the parties involved

Informal partnership

This is an arrangement between main private and public sector partners to strengthen collaborative working and the use of statutory planning mechanisms.

An informal partnership is usually underpinned by a memorandum of understanding or other collaborative agreement.


  • can strengthen and streamline how partners use the statutory planning process

  • relatively quick to establish through a route such as memorandum of understanding or planning performance agreement

  • no changes usually required to existing delegations

  • no transfer of planning powers


  • informal arrangement only - can be affected by changes in circumstance on any side

  • relies on establishing and keeping a high level of trust between the parties involved and close working


  • you need to be clear on respective roles and responsibilities of the parties involved from the outset

  • identify potential risks or changes in circumstances that affect how the project moves forward and plan mitigation measures

  • be clear on how differences of opinion or disputes between the partners will be dealt with

Formal public-private partnership

This establishes a long-term cooperative agreement between two or more public and private sector partners.

The partnership can take the form of a joint venture.

Parties involved usually invest some asset in the partnership.


  • enables risk to be shared between the public and the private sectors by allocating a particular project risk to the partner best able to manage that risk effectively

  • provides formal clarity on roles and responsibilities and enables effective use of resources for the parties involved

  • a whole-life cycle approach that provides a collaborative approach to delivery over a long-term timescale


  • can be time-consuming and costly to establish

  • potential to include significant costs associated with the competitive tender approach of choosing project partners

  • the long-term nature of the contract means significant time and resources needed to be committed by all partners


  • the value of this approach will depend on the parties involved bringing value and/or assets to the project such as land, funding, expertise

  • who the different parties involved are, and what value or assets they bring to the project

  • if there is appetite in the local authority to take an active role in investing in delivery of the garden community

  • if there are significant risks associated with the development that would benefit from this risk sharing approach

  • if there’s an agreed approach to equalisation where there are multiple landowners involved

Locally-led development corporation

These are responsible for master planning and project development, bringing on board private investment, partnering with developers and overseeing the completion of a new town or garden village.

To create a locally-led new town development corporation the council(s) leading the project must apply to the Secretary of State.


  • enables the large-scale co-ordination of investment, planning and regeneration

  • aims to create high quality new settlement, with a focus on sustainable development and good design

  • required to plan from the outset for the long-term stewardship of the assets of the new community

  • supports the use of compulsory purchase powers to acquire land needed to build the garden town or village (although the final decision rests with the Secretary of State).

  • can raise funds to support delivery

  • gives greater certainty over planning and co-ordination, decision-making and investment

  • spans political and economic cycles


  • can result in an additional tier of governance and administration

  • can take time and substantial resource to establish

  • can duplicate powers available locally


  • the scale of ambitions for and barriers to delivery of the garden community are is sufficient to justify the establishment of a locally led new town development corporation (LLDC)

  • the resource, capacity, expertise and funding needed to establish an LLDC are available

  • there is local political support for establishing an LLDC to drive forward development

Further information