Tag Archives: regulatory guidelines

Urban Housing Manual – Out Soon!

GPA is pleased to announce the publication in early September 2004 of ‘The Urban Housing Manual: Making regulatory guidelines work for the poor’. The manual and its accompanying CD-Rom provides professionals, communities and administrators with the means to review the extent to which existing planning regulations, standards and administrative procedures represent a constraint on access by the urban poor to new legal shelter or the upgrading of informal settlements in developing countries.

The manual has been produced in conjunction with ITDG (the Intermediate Technology Development Group). It is written in a clear style without recourse to technical jargon but covers a wide range of issues relating to housing and urban development. It is being launched at the World Urban Forum to be held in Barcelona in September 2004 and will also be available from the publishers Earthscan, and through on-line retailers or bookshops.

The Manual is the main output of two complementary research projects carried out by GPA and ITDG and teams of local researchers in eight countries. It comes with a CD-Rom containing background information on methods and case studies, together with a video.

The projects were funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) though the views expressed are not necessarily those of DFID.

The Urban Housing manual brings together the various aspects that affect the problems faced by poor communities in acquiring land and housing. If governments, NGOs and academia accept the realities, principles and suggestions put together in the manual housing for the poor will no longer be a distant dream.

Arif Hasan, founding member, Asian Coalition for Housing Rights 

The work by Payne and Majale is an excellent and long-overdue help for one of the most important issues faced by poor people in developing countries – that is, how to deal with and take control of the basic rules affecting the way they live. It provides a “how to” for community groups to think about and get control over the complex set of regulations which govern so many of the aspects of living. Used with commitment it can change lives. I highly recommend it and am sure it will become an important first step in this area of great need.

Robert Buckley, Housing Advisor, The World Bank 

A timely and pragmatic guide for cities working with the urban poor to upgrade existing settlements and, by actively planning for the city’s future, preventing the growth of the next generation of slums.

William Cobbett, Senior Urban Upgrading Advisor, Cities Alliance 

For further information on GPA’s ‘Regulatory Guidelines for Affordable Shelter Project’ which contributed research to the manual, click here.

Announcing the book launch at the World Urban Forum in Barcelona.

The book will be launched at 6.15pm on Wednesday 15 September at the UK reception in the AC Barcelona Hotel next to the conference forum. 

**Free copies of the manual and CD-Rom will be available at the launch** 

Workshop on regulatory guidelines

Between 22-24 September, GPA and ITDG (Intermediate Technology Development Group) held a joint workshop on regulatory guidelines for settlement upgrading and affordable shelter.

The workshop brought together the two parallel projects being undertaken as part of the DFID funded KaR (Knowledge and Research) programme. The ITDG project is reviewing regulatory guidelines for upgrading existing urban settlements, whilst the GPA project is reviewing regulatory guidelines for affordable new urban developments. Given the close relationship between the issues addressed by the two projects, and the fact that many team members both in the UK and partner countries are common to both projects, or at least well known to both teams, a primary consideration of the workshop was to address the nature of project outputs.

Whilst both teams are required to produce a manual, plus other outputs, discussion took place as to whether two separate manuals would be justified in terms of the coverage they could provide and the nature of the potential market. It was agreed that there were some aspects on which the regulatory framework of planning regulations, standards and administrative procedures might be different for upgrading and new development. However, these are not necessarily extensive. It was also noted that if the two teams produced separate manuals they would be competing with each other in bookshops, which would force people interested in the subject to only have partial information unless they obtained both documents. It was therefore agreed to approach DFID to seek approval to modify both contracts so that a combined manual could be produced, together with a CD Rom containing all the individual country reports from both projects. In this way, DFID would obtain a better product without an increase in the total budget, readers would have the benefit of a comprehensive document, plus more supporting materials and the team members would be able to combine their efforts without increasing the existing time allocations. The initial response from DFID has been favourable.

Assuming agreement is reached soon, we plan to complete the inputs to the manual, CD-Rom and other project outputs (video films, articles in local media, postings on website, etc) by the end of 2003, ready for production by the end of March 2004.

If you would like to be considered for a complimentary copy of any materials which we can produce for free circulation, please contact GPA.

New Regulatory Guidelines Project Outputs Online


Why do so many people in the urban areas of developing countries live in housing which is classified as illegal? Is it because they are inherently defiant or delinquent? Are they intent on challenging the authority of the state and undermining respect for law and order? In Manila, you are currently encouraged to put a blue ribbon on you car aerial if you support the plans of the MMDA Director to remove illegal settlements and street traders and the campaign is winning considerable support. In Delhi and many other cities, similar campaigns are being launched by determined officials to “clean up” their cities and ensure the rule of law.

But what if you are too poor to afford a car to put a ribbon on? What if you cannot afford the cost of conforming to the numerous rules, regulations and administrative procedures required by many urban authorities before they will grant planning and building permission? If ten percent of the population do not conform to legal requirements, it might be reasonably assumed that they are at fault. However, if 90 percent of the population do not conform, is it not equally reasonable to assume that the law itself is at fault, – or more accurately those who framed the laws?

The fact is that urban planning regulations, standards and administrative procedures by which authorities seek to manage the processes of urban development, are not value free or politically neutral. They inevitable express the world view of political elites and professionals who seek a form of urban development conditioned by the world they are familiar with, or seek to emulate or aspire to. This puts them at odds with the mass of largely poor people already in the urban areas and those who join them daily from even less developed rural areas – people who want a better life for themselves and particularly their children, but do not have the wherewithal to satisfy the norms of a wealthy minority.

In most developing countries, the proportion of urban populations living in settlements considered illegal or unplanned is large and increasing. Efforts to stem migration from rural areas have proved futile as the funds needed to boost rural incomes are invariably generated from the urban areas where jobs – and therefore opportunities – are concentrated. Similarly, programmes to demolish illegal settlements simply move the problem somewhere else. Both approaches deal with symptoms rather than causes. The central cause is a fundamentally narrow economic base in which an urban elite has the lion’s share of what wealth exists and finds it impossible – or unacceptable – to adapt its norms to those of a poor majority. The situation is compounded by the increasing impact of market forces which increase the commercial value of land and accord rising prices to even marginal sites. As land loses its historically based use value, (as exemplified in the customary land tenure systems of sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world), and is regarded increasingly as an economic asset to be traded and exploited like any other, the cost of conforming to official norms becomes daily more unaffordable. The result is that the cost of getting on the bottom rung of the legal ladder has been raised too high – and is getting higher.

It is impractical to deny the penetration of market forces in land when they are permeating all other sectors of the global economy and being forced on developing countries by strictures from the IMF and WTO. Land and property prices are conditioned by the same demand and supply forces which condition all other transactions and the ever growing demand for land in growing urban areas is not being met by planned development. Increasing the supply of planned land would certainly help contain land price increases, though sites need to be developed in conjunction with employment opportunities and services to be effective.

If market forces cannot be stopped, what can be done to increase access to legal and officially acceptable shelter? One major option is to review the regulatory framework of planning standards, regulations and administrative procedures which together impose a range of access costs and to see where changes can be made.

In early 2001, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) approved funding for a regulatory review, or audit, of urban planning regulations, standards and administrative practices for new urban land and shelter developments in five countries in different parts of the world and at different levels of economic development and with different legal and political systems. Since then, a sixth country has been added to the project. The countries are Bolivia, India, Lesotho, South Africa, Tanzania and Turkey. The project is being directed by Geoffrey Payne and Associates in close collaboration with local professionals and is scheduled for completion by March 2004. The project is being carried out in conjunction with a parallel project being undertaken by a team at the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) which is reviewing regulatory frameworks for upgrading existing urban settlements.

The project is being carried out in three phases. Phase 1, which was carried out between September and December 2000, involved the collection of information on planning regulations, standards and administrative procedures in all selected countries except Bolivia which joined the project in mid 2002. Phase 2 started in January 2001 and involved a regulatory audit to assess the imputed costs of access to legal shelter and was completed in March 2002. Following this, work started in Phase 3 to negotiate options for initial implementation. This posting contains the executive summaries of each national audit and includes the work carried out in Phase 2.

Download executive summaries for;

South Africa: P1P2P3P4P5
India: P1P2P3P4
Lesotho: P1
Tanzania: P1P2P3
Turkey: P1 – P2P3

These papers can be downloaded; however any reference to any part of these works must be properly acknowledged and the papers cannot under any circumstances be modified and then re-distributed.

If you wish to receive more information about the project, please email us and we will be pleased to include you in a mailing list of project updates.

Regulatory guidelines for affordable shelter

Funding body:  Department for International Development (DFID). KaR project number R7851.

Aims: To improve knowledge among stakeholders responsible for providing urban land, shelter and services, on regulatory frameworks which can reduce entry costs to legal and appropriate shelter for the urban poor.

Duration: 1st September 2000 to 31st March 2004

Project outputs

  1. A manual containing a methodology for assessing the costs, specific planning standards regulations, procedures and options for reducing entry costs to officially sanctioned developments.

  2. A film of the Lesotho case study by TVE for use in training courses and transmission on the BBC and other networks (as appropriate).

  3. Training materials for use in urban development agencies, training institutes and NGOs, etc on simple methods of assessing the cost of existing regulatory frameworks and ways of improving them.

  4. Online publications of findings and recommendations at key stages in the project

It is difficult to reduce the scale of poverty by increasing incomes. However, considerable improvements can be achieved by reducing committed expenditure on major household items such as access to land, shelter and essential services. The costs of legal shelter are significantly influenced by official planning standards, regulations and administrative procedures, which frequently impose costs which low-income households cannot afford. This forces many people into unauthorised settlements which reduces security, inhibits access to credit and exposes them to additional social, financial and environmental costs. Many of these standards, regulations and procedures are inherited, or copied from other countries, outdated, or just inappropriate and lead to neither equity nor efficiency. The project will review the social and economic costs of key variables, such as plot size, road reservations, density levels, land use regulations and the time taken and steps involved in obtaining development approvals, in both formal and informal settlements in the selected countries. It will also identify and address constraints to reducing access costs for low-income groups to shelter, enabling them to retain a larger proportion of existing incomes. Priority options for further reducing costs will then be tested in local projects and disseminated widely for consideration in other countries. Inappropriate planning standards, regulations and procedures

  1. raise the costs of legal shelter;

  2. inhibit social cohesion and economic activity;

  3. waste land;

  4. discourage private sector participation;

  5. encourage unauthorised settlements and;

  6. encourage corruption.

Previous DFID funded research on public-private partnerships revealed that regulatory frameworks frequently restrict access by low-income groups to legal shelter. Analysts and officials have also acknowledged that research is needed to show which standards, regulations and procedures need to be revised to make access to legal shelter more affordable to the urban poor.

The project seeks to reduce costs and increase choice for low-income urban households to appropriate and affordable shelter. Low-income urban households are increasingly unable to avoid market based costs for land, shelter and services, so any reductions which can be made to such costs through reforms of the regulatory framework will effectively increase their disposable incomes. Studies will be made of households in unauthorised and officially approved settlements to identify the key variables affecting shelter costs and alternative options acceptable to the poor. These will then be tested in new urban projects in collaboration with local authorities and monitored to assess acceptability to all stakeholders. Which cross cutting themes (i.e.: gender, environment, sustainability) will be addressed by this project

The needs of women and other vulnerable groups are central to the research and will be assessed in studies of existing behaviour and future preferences. The environmental impact of existing urban planning regulations, standards and administrative procedures in terms of the land area required for urban expansion into peri-urban areas and agricultural land will be estimated and options identified for regulatory frameworks to reduce the ‘environmental footprint’ of urban growth. The study will explore options for increasing options for compact, mixed land use urban developments, reduce pollution and make public transport more viable. Economic sustainability will be improved by reducing the costs of entry to legal settlements based on market costs for land, construction and services provision. The likelihood of social conflicts is also expected to fall as standards of living rise.

Key publications include ‘Making Common Ground’ (G Payne, editor, IT Publications 1999), Hernando de Soto ‘The Other Path’ (Taurus 1986), Angel A ‘The Land and Housing Markets of Bangkok’ (PADCO, Washington DC 1987), Durand-Lasserve A ‘Articulation between formal and informal land markets in developing countries: Issues and trends’ (mimeo 1987), Dowall D and Clarke G ‘A framework for reforming urban land policies in developing countries’ (World Bank 1991), Farvacque, C and McAuslan, P ‘Reforming urban land policies and institutions in developing countries’ (UMP World Bank 1992) have all stressed the need to review regulatory frameworks. The project will build on this literature and provide empirical data on specific changes, plus guidelines for assessing issues and options in other contexts.