Digital initiative trials of new planning processes

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced that innovative digital tools to help local people have their say in the planning process will be trialled in 13 areas across England.

Over £1 million of government funding has been allocated to 13 planning authorities under the PropTech Engagement Fund to test new digital initiatives to make the planning process more open and accessible and boost public engagement.

The pilots, which will run until March 2022, will inform the government’s work to modernise the planning system and the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities is working with planning authorities to establish best practice and identify where further digital guidance and innovations are needed.

The initiatives, which include an online 3D map to help residents in the London Borough of Hounslow to visualise and comment on proposals, are also aimed at encouraging groups typically underrepresented in planning decisions – like renters, young people and those from black and ethnic minority communities – to make their voices heard on planning in their area.

Minister for Housing Christopher Pincher said: “We want to use digital technology to make the planning system fit for the 21st century and empower people from all backgrounds to get involved in decisions that impact their communities. From scannable QR codes giving people local planning information straight to their mobile devices, to interactive online maps, these digital pilots will help us create a more accessible and transparent system and ensure people are informed, engaged and can have their say.”

The planning authorities that will receive funding are: Dacorum Borough Council, Chesterfield Borough Council, Cotswold District Council, Southampton City Council, Greater Cambridge, Stockport Council, London Borough of Hounslow, London Borough of Wandsworth, Dorset Council, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Watford Borough Council, Bolsover District Council and North Lincolnshire Council.