Development Viability Model (DVM) Assessment Tool

Page updated on: 19/05/2021

We have worked alongside Town Planning and Development consultants Burrows-Hutchinson Ltd, in partnership with other Councils across the region, to develop and establish the Development Viability Model (DVM) assessment tool. The DVM has been created as a comprehensive, user-friendly model for the purpose of assessing the financial viability of a development proposal. It has been produced to work with Microsoft Excel for Office 365 running on Microsoft Windows. Further details on the specifications of the DVM are set out in the User Guide, which can be downloaded below.

The DVM is a ‘site-specific’ appraisal tool. Each copy of the model that is issued by us will relate to a specific development site. The same copy of the model can, however, be re-used to assess more than one proposed scenario for development of that specific site.

The DVM is endorsed by the Council as an appropriate tool for submitting required viability assessments in support of LDP ‘Allocated Sites’ appraisals. National Guidance, including Planning Policy Wales (PPW), requires that “land owners/developers must carry out an initial site viability assessment and provide evidence to demonstrate the financial deliverability of their sites” (PPW, para 4.2.19).

We can make the DVM available to developers, site promoters, or any other individual/organisation, for the purpose of undertaking a financial viability appraisal (“FVA”) of a proposed development. The model will be released on a site-specific basis (i.e. it will be ‘locked’ for use on that particular site), subject to us receiving payment of a standard fee. The standard fees that will apply covers our administrative time necessary to personalise and issue the model for the specific site, as well as officer time required to carry out a high-level review of the submitted FVA.

A tiered fee structure applies, which is based on site, size and scale. The fee will be determined by the Council having regard to what it considers to be an appropriate number of residential units that could reasonably be accommodated on the site. This tiered approach to fees recognises that the scale and scope of a development proposal will influence the amount of officer time likely be required to carry out a high-level review of a completed DVM submitted and reflect that the appraisal will be ‘healthcheck’ of the submission.

Fee schedule

The standard fee schedule is as follows (all charges are subject to VAT and may change over time):

  • Sites of 1-9 units: £195
  • Sites of 10-40 units: £345
  • Sites 41-100 units: £495
  • Sites of more than 100 units - £895 (cost to be agreed with Council depending on size and complexity of proposal)

In addition, a £50 fee is added to the above costings to release the model and administrative costs.

Please note that the above fees relate to DVM submissions in support of LDP Allocated Sites only. The DVM can also be used as a tool to evidence the financial viability of a development proposal at the planning application stage.

For a planning application assessment, the standard fee schedule is as follows (all charges are subject to VAT and may change over time):

  • Sites of up to 9 units: £695 (or £500 if a high-level appraisal has already been carried out)
  • Sites of 10-40 units: £1,195 (or £850 where a high-level appraisal has been carried out)
  • Sites of 41 or more units: £ by agreement depending on size/complexity

In addition, a £50 fee is added to the above costings to release the model and administrative costs.

The high-level review that we will undertake of a completed DVM submission will check the appropriateness of the information provided by the site promoter as part of the appraisal. This process will also ensure that the cells in the DVM’s spreadsheets have been appropriately completed. The review will consider whether:

  1. evidence supplied to support costs and values used in the submitted FVA is sufficient and proportionate;
  2. the suggested timescale for the development are realistic; and
  3. the FVA accords with policy requirements of the Council and with other guidance and/or policy statements that are pertinent to the assessment of Viability in a Planning context.

Following completion of the high-level review, we will issue a simple statement to the site promoter to indicate the extent to which it considers the submitted FVA meets the tests outlined above. It is stressed that the standard fee schedule above does not allow for any time that a site promoter might wish to spend debating the findings of our initial high-level review of an FVA. Additional fees may apply in instances where further officer time is necessary as a result of the site promoter entering into further exchanges with the Council which relate to the appraisal submitted, and/or if the supporting evidence submitted is insufficient.

We recognise that some information required to demonstrate viability may be considered by the site promoter as commercially sensitive. However, as stated in the Welsh Government’s LDP Manual, this issue of sensitivity is not a sufficient reason to avoid providing the appropriate evidence (LDP Manual, para. 5.96). Each submitted FVA will not be made publicly available, and will be treated as confidential between the Council and the person or organisation that has submitted it. The primary purpose of the FVA is to demonstrate whether or not a development proposal and/or proposed site for allocation is likely to be “viable”. Where it may be either necessary or appropriate for information from an FVA to be released as evidence, for example to support a specific site allocation in the Council’s LDP, we will discuss with the site promoter the extent to which such information may be released.

Follow our user guides below on how the DVM works; and how to set out the information that is required to input in the relevant cells. Each copy of the DVM also incorporates a 'Quick Guide', which is aimed at those undertaking an assessment of a purely residential development site of no more than 5 or 6 acres. Users are also advised that ‘Help Notes’ are built into the model, embedded within the worksheets themselves, which remind the user what to do on each sheet.

Planning