UK housing minister has announced a £1.1m fund to test the use of digital planning tools and data standards across 10 local areas.
Housing minister, Christopher 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.”
The initiative was launched to address the digital transformation of local plans which will increase community involvement and speed up the planning process. Published in August 2020, the planning white paper ‘Planning for the Future‘ proposed reforms to the planning system to streamline and modernize the planning process.
As digital tools will be key for making planning proposals more accessible and interactive, supporting the ambition for more effective community engagement, with the new system, local people will now be able to engage with planning in their local area, which will help get homes built quicker.
Local Government Association chairman, James Jamieson, added: “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.”
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 categorization 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.
The 10 bids from local councils to be selected are:
Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council
Stratford upon Avon District Council and Warwick District Council
Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council
Dacorum Borough Council
Broxbourne Borough Council
Birmingham City Council
East Suffolk Council
London Borough Hounslow
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Ashford Borough Council
Placing planning at the council’s fingertips