Ten councils to test the use of digital tools in planning process

Housing Minister Chris Pincher has announced a £1.1 million fund to test the use of digital tools and data standards across 10 local areas.

The planning white paper ‘Planning for the future’, published in August 2020, proposed reforms to the planning system to streamline and modernise the planning process.

The pathfinder programme will look at the digital transformation of local plans which will increase community involvement and speed up the planning process. By introducing a digital system that makes plans map-based and accessible online, local people will be able to engage with planning in their local area, which will help get homes built quicker.

Councils will test how existing local plans translate into the new system, including moving away from long text documents to an interactive map with accompanying annotation document, and the adaptation of existing site allocation policies into the proposed land categorisation format. This will enable planners to understand the impact of proposed land designations and associated policy implications on land allocations and inform a wide range of policies across the reform programme.

Pincher said: “We are moving away from notices on lamp posts to an interactive and accessible map-based online system – placing planning at the fingertips of people. Today’s announcement will ensure the planning process will be brought into the digital age. Communities will be reconnected to a planning process that is supposed to serve them, with residents more engaged over what happens in their areas.

“While the current system excludes residents, who do not have the time to contribute to the lengthy and complex planning process, local democracy and accountability will now be enhanced by technology and transparency.”

James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Councils want communities to be able to shape and define the area they live in, and support measures to enhance public participation in the planning process through a more digital service. This will help to make the planning system more accessible and efficient, and we look forward to working with government to ensure that all residents can engage in the planning process.”

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The Security Event is set to be the first major exhibition to take place in the sector when it opens its doors on 7-9 September 2021 at the NEC in Birmingham and for the first time it will also encompass the National Cyber Security Show.

digitech21 will seek to demystify the increasingly complex technology landscape and will showcase a host of public sector best practice case studies and the very best solution providers, each of whom are helping organisations to transform and improve the way in which the public sector delivers services to the citizen.

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