Once a potential site has been identified, or a number of sites put up for selection, it is necessary to analyse the respective merits or otherwise of each before a formal valuation can be conducted. In many ways, this stage of appraisal is one of the most important in the development process and, given the ever tighter margins within which development takes place, deserves more attention than it has sometimes received. Several well reported cases of professional negligence highlight the need to undertake critical surveys and investigations with care and consideration. The project size, capital resource commitment and degree of community concern evoked determines the level of analytical detail required. This chapter does not cover in depth the extensive detailed analysis that would normally underlie summary calculations and recommendations undertaken for major development projects. Rather, the intent is to indicate the basic nature of the comprehensive methodology that should be employed in the appraisal of development sites.
The first step is to consider the developers' goals and objectives regarding the project. These must be clearly established and agreed before specific uses for the site are studied. This will require consideration of the developers' motivations, business capacities and financial situation. Increasingly complex objectives underlie the goals of development agencies. It is a fair assumption, however, that the private developer is motivated by financial considerations as opposed to the social or community characteristics of the project, although the latter should be of supreme concern to government agencies because of the public responsibility they bear. Even though developers are motivated primarily by financial considerations, their objectives may still vary substantially Developers may have nothing more than an idea that a certain type of project may profitably be developed. They may or may not have a particular site in mind. Alternatively, they may have a site and be searching for the most profitable use. Some development agencies, such as local housing authorities or municipal development departments, may be socially motivated and concerned primarily with weighing social costs against social benefits within a given budget (Barrett & Blair 1982). In any event, once the developer's goals and objectives have been established, site appraisal may commence. For convenience, the principal factors that have to be studied at appraisal have been grouped as follows: