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'Iconic Design' as Deadweight Loss: Rent Acquisition by Design in the Constrained London Office Market

  • Paul Cheshire
  • Gerard Dericks

Britain's land use regulation (planning) system imposes very tight restrictions on the supply of office space so creating substantial rents. An unmeasured part of the costs associated with these restrictions likely comes from compliance costs, one form of which could be rent-seeking activity (Krueger, 1974) of a gentlemanly form: employing a 'trophy architect' to get 'more rentable space' on a given site (Cheshire & Hilber, 2008). This paper finds evidence strongly supportive of this hypothesis. It employs an hedonic approach on a sample of offices sold between 1998 and 2011, defining trophy architects (TAs) as those who had won a major lifetime achievement award. Much of London is covered by absolute height restrictions but outside these areas we show that i) for a given site a building designed by a TA is more valuable, but ii) this only arises because a TA squeezes more space on a given site - an extra 19 stories, increasing the site value by an estimated 130 percent. Planning restrictiveness also varies within London by jurisdiction and the price of space is higher where restrictiveness is tighter. While these effects of trophy architects could be windfall gains to developers, we suggest a more likely interpretation is that they represent the additional but difficult to measure returns demanded for the extra risk and delays imposed by using a TA to try to game the system - hence a form of compliance cost and a deadweight loss associated with England's planning system.

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Paper provided by Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE in its series SERC Discussion Papers with number 0154.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
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Handle: RePEc:cep:sercdp:0154
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.spatialeconomics.ac.uk/SERC/publications/default.asp

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  1. Piet Eichholtz & Nils Kok & John M. Quigley, 2010. "Doing Well by Doing Good? Green Office Buildings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2492-2509, December.
  2. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Wolfgang Maennig, 2010. "Substitutability and Complementarity of Urban Amenities: External Effects of Built Heritage in Berlin," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 38(2), pages 285-323.
  3. Hough, Douglas E. & Kratz, Charles G., 1983. "Can "good" architecture meet the market test?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 40-54, July.
  4. Christian A. L. Hilber & Wouter Vermeulen, 2013. "The impact of supply constraints on house prices in England," Working Papers 2013/28, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  5. Cheshire, Paul & Hilber, Christian A. L., 2007. "Office Space Supply Restrictions in Britain: The Political Economy of Market Revenge," MPRA Paper 5435, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Mohammad Arzaghi & J. Vernon Henderson, 2008. "Networking off Madison Avenue," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1011-1038.
  7. Cheshire, Paul & Sheppard, Stephen, 2002. "The welfare economics of land use planning," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 242-269, September.
  8. Glaeser, Edward L & Gyourko, Joseph & Saks, Raven, 2005. "Why Is Manhattan So Expensive? Regulation and the Rise in Housing Prices," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(2), pages 331-69, October.
  9. David Geltner, 1993. "Temporal Aggregation in Real Estate Return Indices," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 21(2), pages 141-166.
  10. Fuerst, Franz & McAllister, Patrick & Murray, Claudia, 2009. "Designer Office Buildings: An Evaluation of the Price Impacts of Signature Architects," ERES eres2009_200, European Real Estate Society (ERES).
  11. Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
  12. Wheaton, William C & Torto, Raymond G & Evans, Peter, 1997. "The Cyclic Behavior of the Greater London Office Market," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 77-92, July.
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  15. Christos Ioannidis & Mick Silver, 1999. "Estimating exact hedonic indexes: An application to UK television sets," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 69(1), pages 71-94, February.
  16. Franz Fuerst & Patrick McAllister & Claudia Murray, 2009. "Designer Buildings: An Evaluation of the Price Impacts of Signature Architects," Real Estate & Planning Working Papers rep-wp2009-10, Henley Business School, Reading University.
  17. P. C. Cheshire & Stephen Charles Sheppard, 2005. "The introduction of price signals into land use planning decision-making : a proposal," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 568, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  18. Paul Cheshire & Stephen Sheppard, 2005. "Introducing Price Signals into Land Use Planning Decision-making - a Proposal," ERSA conference papers ersa05p42, European Regional Science Association.
  19. Paul Cheshire & Christian A. L. Hilber & Ioannis Kaplanis, 2013. "Land Use Regulation and Productivity - Land Matters: Evidence from a UK Supermarket Chain," SERC Discussion Papers 0138, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  20. Maarten G.J. Jennen & Dirk Brounen, 2009. "The Effect of Clustering on Office Rents: Evidence from the Amsterdam Market," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 37(2), pages 185-208.
  21. Mayo, Stephen & Sheppard, Stephen, 2001. "Housing Supply and the Effects of Stochastic Development Control," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 109-128, June.
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