A development competition is a sale by tender of publicly owned land with development potential where the bidders are asked also to submit design proposals. A competition must provide a market to secure best value in the sale of a land asset; this also enables the vendor to select from the design ideas, development expertise and financial resources of a range of bidders. This should help to secure high quality in urban design, environmental and other benefits for the local community. While there is a clear policy overlap with town planning, and in particular with planning agreements, there is a legal requirement to keep the sale separate from formal planning decisions. Development agreements are usually made between the parties to cover the building period after which the site is conveyed. Large numbers of such competitions are held in the UK each year and they thus provide the basis for many residential, commercial development projects and regeneration of urban locales. Disposal of sites in this way has become more significant due to the concentration of activity on brown-field land. In future, the need to assemble and repackage urban land in the sustainable city is likely to make such competitions yet more frequent. While there are clear advantages in theory, in practice competitions are not without problems. There is often conflict between the aims and tension over the evaluation of bids, especially between the different professions and personnel involved. The paper reports on research that combines quantitative and qualitative methodologies. A postal survey was carried out of UK Local Authority Estates Officers covering their use, experience and views on development competitions. A response rate of 40% was achieved from a sample of 225. A case study of development competitions in Tyne and Wear, UK was also carried out, which involved in-depth interviews with 5 Local Authority Estates Officers and 13 developers. Finally an interview survey of property consultants specialising in advising vendors and developers was undertaken.