Wikis > 6. Property Development > The Development Process

The Development Process

The Development Process here means the process of the physical transformation of a building or land. The five stages that most development projects go through are outlined below; though it is difficult to estimate the time that it will take since it is dependent on so many factors – not just the physical size and complexity of the build but also the people and institutions involved. Depending on the scale and kind of development involved, a construction process can take several years to develop in detail and even longer to implement on site. However, a small scale refurbishment of a pre-existing library will be much shorter.

Being the client of a building project can be hugely exciting and creative. It can also be a shock when you see or have to run the finished facility and you are kicking yourself that you “did not think about that”. The main stages of the design and construction process below are cross-referenced against the stages of work proposed by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).


RIBA Stage Activities Client Decision-making
Site identification.
Outline business case.
Development brief.
Consultant appointments
A) Appraisal Identification of client’s needs and objectives, business case and possible constraints on development.Preparation of feasibility studies and assessment of options to enable the client to decide whether to proceed. Approval of final brief
B) Design Brief Development of initial statement of requirements into the Design Brief by or on behalf of the client confirming key requirements and constraints.

Identification of procurement method, procedures, organisational structure and range of consultants and others to be engaged for the project.

Procurement Method


These stages cover the initial project concept and development of a ‘design brief’ or set of instructions to an architect / design team. This provides them with ‘client’ guidance on the specific requirements for the final buildings / improvements and the process of design development. This may include requirements for community involvement activities to enable input to the brief, e.g- community consultation events with existing library service users and local residents.

It is sometimes the case, unless they can be secured for free, that fees will be payable at this stage for the professional services of architects, landscape architect and quantity surveyor to produce design sketches and cost estimates. Some site investigation – site and building condition survey work may also be required. This helps to ensure that there is no major technical barrier to the project idea or that plans can be developed to deal with specific technical challenges, e.g- site contamination / party wall agreements / access, etc.

Design considerations

During the preparation stage, organisations will need to be able to consider aspects of design and effectively communicate their intentions for the site in order to develop briefs.

Address issues of ‘dead space’ in the design. Wasted space will not earn revenue, but only costs money to heat and light and supervise, e.g.: reception areas that are large, wide corridors or lots of ‘circulation space’. If you are unfamiliar with design issues, consider attending events and design criticism sessions run by design professionals like the Glass House Community Led Design.

Do not let a ‘middle man’ stop you from talking to the architect or contractors. Experience of others shows that if you do not insist on direct contact with what is going on and the decisions being made, you are more likely to end up with a building that does not fit your needs or vision. That middle man can be a council officer, project manager or it may end up being someone on your steering group that is interested in creating the building but not in using it.

Further detail that you will need to consider in preparation is detailed in the design section that follows.



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