"Traditionally the development industry, especially in the residential sector, has had a mechanistic approach, with insufficient engagement with the end users of its products. This paper seeks to redefine the development process and examines, in particular the changing contexts of residential development in both the UK and the Netherlands. It critically reviews a number of concepts and models which puts customers and appropriate research of their needs at the heart of the process. It examines the North American ""highest & best use"" approach and the PROCESS© stakeholder model before examining how a systematic approach, underpinned by thorough research can achieve higher end user satisfaction, increased viability and risk reduction. Following a review of the traditional approach, the authors compare and contrast perspectives from both the UK and The Netherlands and combine professional and academic observations and analysis of the changes affecting the development industry. In The Netherlands after more than half a century of a government dominated sellers-market there is growing recognition that quality is in fact something driven and defined by the customer. In the more mature UK residential market, customers have become highly sophisticated and their expectations driven higher by ""aspirational"" marketing and the shift from an emphasis on property ownership to ""lifestyle facilitation"". These changes demand a different attitude from the parties involved, especially residential real estate developers. This paper critically evaluates recent changes at AM Wonen, the largest independent Dutch developer, and its transition from design management to knowledge management and design research. In 2002 AM employed design management consultants with experience in the domestic appliances and car industry to analyse its business processes. A two-year project led to an explicit development strategy, recognising all stakeholders and a re-definition of the development process. This paper reviews this unique approach, evaluates it against other contemporary international models and thereby aims to re-define the development process. Finally the paper presents an outline of the further research that the ""Expert Centre"" at the Hanzehogeschool Groningen will undertake in order to be able to build a dynamic model for residential development in which there is a real-time connection between the user requirements, physical characteristics and financial analysis of development projects. "