Abstract of PhD Thesis

Market-based instruments for sustainable settlement patterns; designing more effective, efficient and equitable policy instruments

Eoin O'Neill, University College Dublin (2007)

The principal objective of this thesis is to advance the economics and planning literature to improve economic analysis of planning and provide a theoretical rationale, and means of, intervention to improve settlement patterns.  Despite the impressive development of the field of spatial economics, the literature has not yet identified the policy implications for national spatial planning.  The thesis suggests, via a case study, that spatial economic theory provides a useful theoretical framework for the analysis of national spatial planning policy.  However, a weakness is its failure to deal with social costs adequately.  Market-based instruments such as development charges, transferable development rights, and negotiated solutions are now being used in planning practice internationally.  Such instruments are grounded in economic theory rather than in the planning theory tradition.  The thesis suggests areas of shared understanding and complementarities between both bodies of theory and questions whether there could be a future collaborative welfare theory.  The thesis goes on to explore the potential to achieve ‘pure’ and ‘impure’ Coasian solutions in planning based on well-defined property rights, examining the potential of negotiated solutions as an alternative to development control, and outlining the conditions necessary to achieve Pareto improvements through community gain.  Although a body of theoretical literature discusses the use of development charges to address market failure, there is limited literature examining how charging is implemented in practice.  The thesis describes the theoretical basis for development charging and outlines how such charges can best be implemented in practice.  It distinguishes this approach from cost-recovery infrastructure charges.  Finally, the potential differences in the size, nature and distribution of welfare gains and losses, achieved when using development charges or transferable development right instruments in the presence of uncertainty, are discussed and potential policy implications outlined.  The thesis concludes by suggesting areas for future empirical research.