Information showing how much a proposed development is worth and the financial return a developer can expect to make will now be made public.

In line with government guidance, Hertsmere Borough Council has begun publishing on its website the financial viability assessments that accompany planning applications it receives.

Viability assessments are produced by developers in order to show the economic viability of their schemes - it is evidence compiled by a developer to show how much money they would make from the scheme and why some parts of the scheme may be considered more costly than expected.

Commonly, these assessments can be used by developers to show why sometimes they cannot meet affordable housing provision.

The assessments are taken into consideration when the council decides the requirements developers must agree to before their plans are considered for approval, such as the level of on-site affordable housing provision they must achieve or the level of contributions a developer must make available for community benefit.

It is hoped the publication of the viability assessments will give residents, businesses and other interested parties greater insight into how or why decisions about where they live or work have been made, enhancing the sense of transparency in the planning process.

Councillor Dr Harvey Cohen, responsible for planning, said: "It is standard practice in Hertsmere, and other local authorities, to closely scrutinise development viability and this step is just a way of making sure that members of the public can be brought into the process.

"It shows how we are holding developers to account and ensuring a consistency of approach, so that we can demonstrate we are treating all development proposals fairly.

"We want our residents, businesses and other stakeholders to have access to the same information that we do so that we can all see the planning process at work and understand how decisions which impact on the lives and vibrancy of our local communities are made."

Hertsmere Labour leader, Cllr Jeremy Newmark, added: "I have pressed for changes to the system of viability assessments, including greater transparency, for the past three years.

"Time after time, financial viability is used by developers as an excuse to avoid including affordable housing in their developments. They have played the system for far too long.

"This change is a welcome first step in the right direction."