Companies that build well-designed houses that comply with government brownfield planning rules can expect sites to fetch 50% more than those with standard homes.
Research commissioned by architectural watchdog CABE, the DTLR and design champion Design for Homes, found that a site in south-west London had a land value 58% higher than a comparable site with a more traditional product. This was because of the quality of design and the density of the houses, one of the key recommendations in PPG3, the government's guidelines.

The estate, at St James' Park in Surbiton, was built by Berkeley subsidiary St James and designed by PRP Architects. The Georgian-style homes had a density of 43.3 units a hectare, whereas a normal, pre-PPG3, residential estate would have a density of 25.

The research also looked at other innovatively designed schemes that conformed with the government guidelines. One of these was at Bishop's Mead in Chelmsford, Essex, built by Bryant Homes, and another at Thorley Lane at St Michael's Mead, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, built by Countryside. Each was benchmarked against standard schemes in the area.

But the research confirmed that density alone was not enough to increase land values. One of the densest schemes studied (40.2 units a hectare) was a Bryant/Taywood estate at Fairford Leys, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, masterplanned by John Simpson. This was deemed the poorest performer, with a land value 12% below the normal market price.

The research questions the housing industry’s focus on build costs Research source

In addition, housebuilders had to keep a balance between increasing the number of houses built but not reducing their quality. The research also said that housebuilders must focus on the creation of a high-quality environment.

"It questions the industry's focus on build costs," said a source. "These type of schemes can generate such high land values that they can make the obsession with build costs myopic."