Understanding Development Corporations

06.07.2023 3 min read

Temple regularly undertakes reviews of Environmental Statements and other technical reports for development corporation clients. We are also working on Environmental Impact Statements within areas covered by development corporations.

In the United Kingdom, development corporations have a long history and have played a significant role in our planning system. It is important to recognise the significance of these corporations to achieve the regeneration of designated areas.

Development corporations are statutory bodies formed to facilitate development in areas that require a large-scale co-ordination of both investment and planning. They are typically used to regenerate a designated area, build new development predominately on greenfield sites, and act as a planning authority.

There are three types of development corporations:

Urban Development Corporations in England and Wales

Urban Development Corporations (UDCs) have been instrumental in driving urban regeneration and economic growth. These corporations have the authority to implement strategic plans for urban areas, focusing on infrastructure development, housing, and job creation. They are typically placed in areas where there is insufficient demand to drive private investment. UDCs are accountable to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC).

Some notable UDCs include the London Docklands Development Corporation and the Birmingham Heartlands Development Corporation.

New Town Development Corporations

New Town Development Corporations were established to oversee the development of new towns across the United Kingdom after World War II. These were appointed by the central government and are now accountable to the DLUHC. Since 2018, the DLUHC has created Locally Led New Town Development Corporations, overseen by local authorities.

These corporations have the responsibility of planning and coordinating the development of these towns, ensuring the provision of essential infrastructure, housing, and employment opportunities.

Mayoral Development Corporations

Mayoral Development Corporations (MDCs) have been introduced in the UK as a part of the Localism Act 2011. These corporations, overseen by a mayor, work towards accelerating developments and attracting investment into an area. Typically, MDCs have greater plan-making power than other development corporations.

The Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 expanded the scope of MDCs to combined authority areas enabling local councils to request the creation of MDCs in their respective areas to drive development and regeneration.

Reforming Development Corporations for Enhanced Effectiveness

The Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities has recently published its response to a technical consultation on development corporation reform. These reforms aim to:

  • Simplify the process of designating a development area and establishing a development corporation.
  • Extend powers to all development corporations to enable all to possess plan-making and development management powers (not just MDCs).
  • Empower development corporations by the ability to collect Infrastructure Levy, providing the opportunity for development corporations to tailor arrangements with developers and enhance local neighbouring communities.
  • Enhance knowledge sharing through a dedicated toolkit, funding, and greater expertise in setting up a development corporation.
  • Explore private sector involvement and the potential for ‘partnership models’ aimed to improve investor confidence.

What the future holds

Development corporations are pivotal in driving development and economic growth. The reforms proposed by the government aim to enhance the effectiveness and accessibility of these corporations. By streamlining the establishment process, expanding powers, facilitating knowledge sharing, and fostering private sector involvement, development corporations can play an even more significant role in shaping our cities and communities for the better.

We at Temple are excited to continue working with development corporations into the future, to continue to enable regeneration and new developments by providing our environmental expertise. For more information about Temple Environmental services click here.


Key Contacts

James Sanders Senior Director - Environment & Planning