The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has taken more councils onboard in its development of web apps for digital planning.
Its digital planning team has also released details of funding for a round of local authority led pathfinder projects to improve software in the local planning process.
The first move derives from its work in developing the public facing RIPA (reducing invalid planning applications) app to help homeowners and developers check whether an application can be quickly approved; and the BoPS (back office planning system) app for council officials to manage permitted planning applications.
Both have initially been tested by Southwark, Lambeth and Buckinghamshire Councils, and DLUHC has now shared out £2.2 million among eight other local authorities to expand the beta programme. Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Camden, Dacorum, Doncaster, Gloucester, Medway and Newcastle will receive the funds, while DLUHC will set up a project team to launch a beta service to run through the councils’ websites.
This will be followed by work on a function for applications for full planning permission, which the team said is a more complicated challenge as it depends on differing local planning policies.
Ambitions for software
Its new support for councils to improve their planning software is aimed at making planning applications more transparent and easier to understand for the public and professionals, and reducing the time local planning officers have to spend on administrative tasks.
The funding will go to:
- Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (£58,000) to improve the use of data, notably through better reporting on Microsoft Power BI;
- Colchester Borough Council (£150,000) to explore ways customers can interact with data from its geographic information system;
- London Borough of Harrow (£150,000) for automatic loading of information submitted on a comment webform into the relevant system;
- London Borough of Havering (£150,000), exploring full integration of pre-application advice requests, payments and bookings with development management software, and the connection of management information and SMS notification software;
- North Devon District Council (£149,000), for a project on the linking of all SQL data and intelligence to deal with data duplication;
- Nottingham City Council (£114,000), working on efficient and effective data publishing processes;
- Sevenoaks District Council (£150,000) for solutions to improve access to information on tree preservation orders and applications to carry out works on protected trees;
- and Tewkesbury Borough Council (£150,000) to explore an open and standard way of exposing planning application data to provide progress updates to service users via a tracker.
A blogpost from the team said: “The continued investment in local planning authorities reflects the department’s ambitions to modernise planning software.
“By working with the sector, we will enable the conditions for a more innovative market that uses planning data in new and exciting ways, and for better planning services that support faster, more accurate decision making.”
Image from iStock, Studio Chlorophylle Serge Nied