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Transfer of Development Credits Helps Cities Grow Up

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Many US jurisdictions plan to 'grow up' by intensifying their urban cores while preserving important resources within and surrounding their centres. However, few US jurisdictions are able to realize all their land-use goals employing only traditional regulatory controls and tax revenues. In response, over 260 US jurisdictions use transfer of development credits (TDC) – a market based planning implementation tool that allows additional development in areas where growth is wanted through the transfer of development potential from important sending areas. When it works, TDC achieves urban intensification goals including the protection of water supplies, food sources and other systems that support urban growth, the preservation of landmarks, parks, affordable housing and urban amenities that create vibrant cities and the conservation of open space and greenbelts that curb sprawl and encourage compact communities. Instead of the winners and losers often produced by traditional regulations, TDC offers a more equitable outcome in which developers are allowed additional development when they contribute a portion of the extra profit towards community benefits like land preservation and urban amenities. Despite its conceptual appeal, critics point out that many TDC programmes are failures and charge that TDC has limited application, particularly in countries with property right laws and traditions that differ from those in the US. However, this paper argues that TDC programmes come in many forms and can be used effectively internationally as well as in the US.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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