A brief description of our services is given below under four main headings


  1. Delivery and Viability
  2. Older People
  3. Custom & Self-build
  4. Policy & Research


Our agile team has wide ranging experience and we would be happy to talk to you about any housing / planning / delivery / economic related project you may be embarking upon.



1. Delivery and Viability


The Three Dragons Toolkit is a bespoke viability model, widely used by local authorities for plan making, development management and scheme negotiations as well as by developers testing site specific economics.


We have extensive experience of undertaking economic viability studies on behalf of our clients for both residential and non-residential development schemes. Our studies have been used to inform local plans, Supplementary Planning Documents, master plans and Community Infrastructure Levies as well as planning applications. The Toolkit and its outputs have been tested at examination and appeal.


Plan Making

At Three Dragons we have an established record of supporting local authorities in producing Local Plans that are economically deliverable and of providing evidence at Local Plan Examination to ensure those Plans are found to be economically sound. Where necessary we will work with councils to develop key policies by testing varying iterations, for example the level of affordable housing that can be achieved.


Recent whole plan viability studies have ranged from authorities in major cites or other urban environments to intensely rural areas.  Examples include the Greater London Authorities (for The London Plan), Ashford, Colchester, Braintree, Uttlesford, Tendring, Forest Heath, New Forest (District & National Park), Dartmoor and the Isles of Scilly.



The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and National Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) are the basis of Three Dragons approach to undertaking a CIL viability study and recommending an approach to our clients. Our approach is tried and tested and been subject to a number of examinations including Basingstoke, Cornwall, East Devon and Waverley.


Site specific & S106 discussions

The Three Dragons Toolkit combined with a depth understanding of the development process means we are well-placed to assess the deliverability and viability of individual sites. This includes informing discussions on s106, site capacity, mix and infrastructure requirements which helps guide policy making, funding and investment decisions.


Our comprehensive knowledge of development costs & values means we are able to appraise obligations and review viability appraisals to advise on reasonable requirements and identify whether further expertise is required, for example, on site infrastructure costs. Recent commissions cover a wide range of sites from small rural schemes to large urban extensions.



2. Older People


The United Kingdom, like most countries in Europe, has an ageing population.  Local authorities and housing providers must therefore adapt their products to meet the changing needs of an older population.


Older Persons Assessments

Three Dragons has wide-ranging experience in policy development for older persons. This includes our tried and tested Older Persons Toolkit for assessing demand for specialist older persons accommodation such as Retirement Living or Extra Care.


We regularly carry out housing need surveys at local level on behalf of individual developers where we use our demand model to forecast demand for their particular variant of older persons housing and compare this with current supply.  The model operates at district and post code level and can assist negotiation with a local planning authority where there is doubt about the strength of local demand for a scheme.

We have also developed a template of criteria for site selection for allocating sites for sheltered and extra care development, which has since been taken forward by Three Dragons and adopted as a national standard by Retirement Housing Group.


Three Dragons has worked with

  • local authorities at City level
  • in rural communities
  • with housing providers across England

to provide housing solutions which help older people live healthier, more productive lives.



Older person Policy & Research

We can advise on how spatial planning policies can help meet the needs of older people and improve quality of life to the benefit of the whole community. Recently we have worked on the following projects:

Women Wearing Colorful Bathing Caps — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis


  • Older Londoners and the London Plan: a study of how pro-active spatial planning policies at City and Borough level can help older people to work for longer and to live healthier and more active lives;
  •  London Older persons housing benchmarks: a forecasting model which compares household growth with stock of specialist older persons housing to provide benchmark targets for provision of newbuild specialist older persons housing in each of the 33 London Boroughs upto 2031
  • Accessible design features in specialist older persons housing; a review of current provision of wheelchair housing in London, provision of mobility scooter storage and access to disabled car parking spaces in newbuild specialist retirement housing schemes. Includes broad estimates of potential demand for wheelchair housing and mobility scooters among residents of specialist retirement housing.
  • We helped Northamptonshire County Council and the associated district Councils and CCGs develop an older persons housing strategy for the County.  This included drawing up indicative targets and a bespoke demand model.
  • We have researched a range of older person issues in rural areas including providing evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People who were conducting an Enquiry Into “Rural Housing for An Ageing Population: Preserving Independence”.


Retirement Housing Group

Older person retirement scheme - Chapter House

Chapter House – Pegasus Life HAPPI Design award winner

Three Dragons also provides the secretariat to Retirement Housing Group  (RHG) ( a leading trade association in the retirement housing sector.


On behalf of RHG

  • we run a biennial conference on retirement housing,
  • lobby Government
  • provide member briefings on key regulatory issues including
    • consumer protection,
    • building and planning regulations and
    • access to mortgage and development finance.


Membership of RHG is open to all organisations with an interest in the provision of retirement housing.




3. Custom & Self-build


‘Self-build’ housing has been part of the UK housing market for many years, traditionally meeting the aspirations of a niche market where future home owners are involved in the design and delivery of their dream home. Over time, the self-build market has broadened and now includes  ‘custom build’ where the consumer buys a shell or part finished home and organise the final fit-out themselves.


There is no doubt that Custom and Self Build homes can help provide a diverse mix of local housing and widen the potential for home ownership as well as providing new affordable housing options.  Custom and Self-Build can also help encourage small and medium sized builders to diversify their businesses and take advantage of a wider range of customers.


The Government has recognised these benefits and has steadily introduced measures to support the growth of Custom and Self-Build (CSB) housing. Local authorities too are seeing the opportunity to vary the local housing offer and, at times, speed up delivery. They are increasingly choosing to support custom & self-build delivery through local plan policies. Folding house


Where local authorities want to increase custom & self-build delivery it is vital that local plans are prepared using clear and robust evidence. Three Dragons, with support from National Custom and Self Build Association, has developed a Custom & Self build Toolkit.  The toolkit provides an estimation of the level of demand for custom & self-build homes and is based on bespoke localised data. It offers local authorities a demand led, longer-term picture of demand which provides evidence to inform planning policies, such as those in an emerging local plan.


We are also able to undertake further work to advise on policy approaches and strategies to enable the delivery of custom & self-build housing as well as undertaking site appraisal and viability studies for residential schemes that include this type of housing.


We have recently been commissioned to develop or inform policies for councils including: Central Bedfordshire, Corby, Exeter, East Northants, Kettering, Taunton, Wellingborough and Kings Lynn & West Norfolk.




4. Policy & Research


Three Dragons has a long history of undertaking policy research projects, that explore the operation of the planning system and the housing market.  Our skills in undertaking research include the initial design of the research and then in undertaking analysis of quantitative data and qualitative interviews with private and public sector organisations.  We have experience of projects to evaluate existing policy interventions as well as research to help develop new policies.


In undertaking policy research studies, Three Dragons often works with partners from other disciplines as well as with academic institutions.  Examples of recent policy research studies we have undertaken include:


  • Research and guidance for a new viability SPD and alternative approaches to seeking affordable housing contributions for Teignbridge District Council 2018
  • Specialist housing assessment of the bid to the Humber LEP for a new programme of housing renewal in Hull, including new build and refurbishments.  The assessments included the outline and full business cases in 2018, as part of a team led by SDG.
  • The implications of implementing the Passivhaus requirement for a new garden village (Fareham Borough Council, 2018);
  • Deliverability and Affordability of Housing in the South West (RTPI, 2017);
  • Research into the Value Impact & Delivery of the Community Infrastructure Levy (DGLG, 2017);
  • Review of the likely impacts of recent government policy changes on housing delivery (Dorset LEP, 2017);
  • A study examining how well higher density schemes and tall buildings perform relative to London Plan policy objectives (GLA, 2016);
  • An Evaluation of Rent First and the Intermediate Rent Market in Wales (Welsh Government, 2015);
  • Developer Contributions for Affordable Housing in Northern Ireland, (Northern Ireland Executive, 2015);
  • S106 planning obligations in England, Research into the scale and impact on financial viability of S106 obligations in England in 2011-2012 (DCLG, 2014);
  • Local Spatial Planning Process and Health study to identify opportunities to promote health and wellbeing in the spatial planning process (NIHCE, 2010);
  • Land supply assessment checks (DCLG, 2009);
  • Neighbourhood Housing Stock Analysis, (Basingstoke and Deane District Council, 2009)