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DLUHC gives councils over £1 million for digital planning pilots


The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has allocated over £1 million for a series of pilots using digital technology in the planning process.

The money has come from the PropTech Engagement Fund and is aimed at making the process more open and accessible and boosting public engagement.

The pilots, led by local authorities, will run until March 2022 to inform DLUHM’s work on modernising the planning system, establishing best practice and identifying where further digital guidance is needed.

The department said they are also aimed at encouraging groups typically underrepresented in planning decisions – like renters, young people and those from black and ethnic minority communities – to get involved.

Project details

The projects and levels of funding are as follows:

  • The London Borough of Hounslow creating an online 3D map for visualising proposals (£100,000).
  • Watford Borough Council developing a QR code system for residents to view an interactive map and find information (£30,000).
  • Greater Cambridge Shared Planning using digital tech in capturing views from outside the formal consultation process (£98,250).
  • Dacorum Borough Council using machine readable data and 3D modelling in its local plan consultation (£100,000).
  • Chesterfield Borough Council piloting a digital web platform to engage the community and support an automated land availability assessment (£100,000).
  • Costwold District Council ensuring documents and information for consultations are more visually engaging and accessible (£53,193).
  • Southampton City Council running a pilot on improving participation of children and young people from minority groups in feedback on local plan options (£100,000).
  • Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council developing a mapping tool to bring its local plan to live and a consultation portal within the map (£90,000).
  • London Borough of Wandsworth looking at whether small digital initiatives can improve engagement rates and the demographic spread of respondents to the local plan (£100,000).
  • Dorset Council giving users a choice of how they receive updates in tracking planning applications.
  • London Borough of Barking and Dagenham developing an app to provide easier access to planning data and creating an augmented reality visualisation of proposals (£100,000).
  • Bolsover District Council building a web based geographic information system interface that produces policies and site allocations based on data rather than documents (£100,000).
  • North Lincolnshire District Council creating new planning data feeds for integration with social and other planning websites (£100,000).

Minister for Housing Christopher Pincher MP (pictured) 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 PropTech Engagement Fund was launched in August 2021 with local authorities invited to submit bids for up to £100,000.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

Updated on 25 October on receiving further detail from DLUHC on individual projects

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