Transferable Development Rights (TDR)

"Transferable Development Rights" (TDR) is a zoning tool that allows conservation and development to coexist within a municipality. TDR separates the development rights from a parcel (i.e., the "sending parcel") and applies those rights to another parcel (i.e., the "receiving parcel") that can be developed at a higher density, thus preserving the sending parcel for agricultural or other non-development use. TDR is a market-based approach that compensates the sending parcel and offers advantages to the receiving parcel through additional density.

TDR can also help to use existing utilities and infrastructure more efficiently because development can be redirected from undeveloped "Greenfield" areas. Existing communities can be strengthened and local tax bases can be improved.


TDRThe following advantages are associated with Transferable Development Rights programs:


The following limitations are associated with Transferable Development Rights programs:

How to Use This Tool

TDRs work best when density is sent from Agricultural, Rural and Natural landscapes and into Suburban and Urban landscapes, where there are objectively-defined areas for preservation and for development. The municipality must determine how to assign development rights to the sending parcel.

TDR should be supported in the comprehensive plan based on physical analyses, and expressed in zoning. The sending and receiving areas must be clearly established in the zoning ordinance and on the zoning map. A build-out analysis may be used to determine a balance between sending and receiving areas.


The following are examples of townships in Chester County that have adopted TDR programs:

Related References

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