In Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs, development rights are transferred from one property to another – from a “sending site” to a “receiving site”. This tool is most commonly applied to rural sending sites, where removing development rights can serve to preserve land in its natural state, or by preventing conversion from agriculture or working forest. The development rights to be removed from these sending sites are then sold to developers in urban receiving sites, where the newly-purchased development rights can be applied on top of underlying zoning to allow higher density development.
While TDR for rural conservation is most common, it has also been applied to urban settings. TDR can be used for affordable housing by defining existing affordable housing properties as sending sites – this could include manufactured home parks or unique options like existing SROs that are vulnerable to redevelopment. (This concept is also applied to historic sites.) A rural conservation TDR program could also serve affordable housing if cities require that a portion of units developed through the TDR density bonus are affordable. In any case, programs should be structured in such a way so that TDR benefits to receiving sites do not disincentivize any other affordable housing incentive programs.
- HousingPolicy.org: Transfer of Development Rights
- Massachusetts Smart Growth Toolkit: Transfer of Development Rights
- PSRC: Transfer of Development Rights for Affordable Housing