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Digital planning vision includes need for common data schema


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Planning authorities need to establish a common structure and data schema for local plans and applications, according to a new ‘vision’ published by the Connected Places Catapult (CPC).

It has collaboration with the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) on the vision document, which is aimed at supporting efforts to make planning more efficient, transparent and strategic.

The two organisations have been working together for the past few years and said the document reflects key messages to emerge from effort, drawing on contributions from planners, academics, civil servants, community groups and technology experts.

It could also foster the growth of digital planning technologies, often known as ‘plantech’.

CPC- the Government backed programme to support the development of digital in the field - and RTPI have produced 11 policies underpinned by an understanding that plans should be supported by data that enables appropriate interventions.

Common factors

One of these is the setting up a common structure and data schema for local plans and planning applications, linked to an objects and open national evidence base.

Along with this is a need to invest in open source tools for authorities, plantech providers and the public to collect, analyse and visualise data, and to develop tools and methods for better analysis, monitoring of the outcomes of planning decisions, beyond those usually measured.

Others include: harnessing digital technology to encourage wider participation in the planning process; ensuring all the data from relevant documents is machine readable; standardising a common built environment, language and data to improve cooperation; and ensuring local authorities have the capacity to procure and deliver the right digital tools.

Technology power

RTPI policy manager James Harris said: “We want to harness the power of technology and direct innovative thinking towards improving the planning system so that our members can work more efficiently, effectively and collaboratively under conditions of complexity and rapid change.

“We hope that this vision can provide those involved in PlanTech with a common agenda for empowering planners and delivering great places.”

CPC director of digitising planning Stefan Webb commented: “Planners have always been at the heart of the digital transformation of the planning system that the Catapult is trying to bring about. This new vision and the principles that underpin it should act as a signpost for those in government and industry who are designing, procuring and building the digital planning system of the future.”

Image from Connected Places Catapult

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