Any city, whether compact or not, is the result of years of development, and such development is an economic activity. However, unlike many less tangible forms of economic activity, its results are long lasting, self-evident and have a direct effect on people's daily lives.
In modern Britain, the vast majority of development is carried out in the private sector. The main reason it is carried out is to create profit. Those carrying it out are many and varied, and each is inclined to march to the beat of a different drum. This variety must be recognised, and included in our thinking, if the compact city is to become a reality. Let us consider a few of those involved. Corporate investors are inclined to take a long term view and own substantial amounts of urban property. For example, in the UK, excluding London, institutional funds own approximately 15% of UK offices (Applied Property Research, 1995). Their goals are to ensure steady, long term and above all secure income. Property is just one source of their investment income, and they will move in and out of the property market as necessary. They are not inclined to change just for the sake of it. Security is all. Therefore, investment fund criteria are defined in great detail and, if a property does not comply, the fund will simply not buy it. New products and new mixes of uses are treated with caution. Convincing the funds to back the compact city in a hurry will be like changing the course of a fully loaded supertanker. It will take a long time and happen only slowly.
Developers on the other hand are true creatures of the market place. They love a fast turnover and a quick profit. Taking risk is an essential part of making that profit. Therefore, so long as they can be objectively assessed, they are more inclined to try out new products in the market place. Developers could thus perhaps prove to be best friends of the compact city.
Private individuals can act as both developers and consumers. For example,