The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has opened up its Planning Software Improvement Fund, making £5 million available between 25 councils in England to encourage digital innovation in the field.
It said the fund, which was flagged up earlier this month, comes in response to its ambition to see a new, more modular software landscape to provide access to relevant data and support automation of routing processes.
According to a digital planning team blogpost, the fund will be available for projects that focus on specific improvements reflecting what has been learned from conversations with council staff and service providers.
It involves three tracks, the first of which involves the design of new services and the second working with an existing service provider on the adoption of new services integrated with existing software. Both of these are related to the Open Digital Planning project and build on the PlanX web platform and BOPS (Back Office Planning Systems) initiatives for submitting and processing planning applications, and involve the development of APIs for sharing data between systems.
The third track involves improving software products and integrations through collaboration with service providers.
“Many councils are currently using different technology products that do not easily integrate or share data with each other, which can cause friction in the planning system,” the blog said, adding: “We are supporting local government to improve the software being used for development management, the part of the planning process where decisions are made on applications.”