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Government plans data push to support proptech and builders

22/10/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

Housing Minister Esther McVey has announced plans to promote the release of public sector data to support the proptech sector and property developers in the UK.

Aerial shot of houses and fields

She said the Government has a number of measures in store, including the introduction of a national index of all brownfield data and the possibility of a digital product to make information available in a consistent format.

McVey was speaking in advance of a roundtable discussion with proptech companies, whose sector is estimated to be worth £6 billion a year to the UK and growing.

The measures respond to concerns that SMEs often do not have the resources to find and appraise sites for building then draw up planning applications. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said that access to tools that analyse multiple datasets would be a major asset for the industry.

Among the plans is the introduction of a national index of all brownfield data, aimed at simplifying and improving the quality of brownfield land registers to help developers find spots that local authorities consider appropriate for building homes.

MHCLG said the index would be valuable to property developers and councils, with new guidance on the implementation of standards and tools to help validate the data.

Existing problems

The ministry has completed research into which data can most easily be made available from local plans and existing planning systems, but identified problems in that it is often issued in PDF format with specific details hard to find and inconsistent in how they are presented.

It said a department initiative could deploy a “natively digital product” – about which it has so far provided no further details – to make essential information accessible to policy makers, citizens and digital entrepreneurs in a standardised format.

It also pointed to plans to open up data on compulsory purchase orders, which it described as valuable for local authorities in delivering housing and regeneration.

In addition, the Geospatial Commission in the Cabinet Office will demonstrate solutions for strategic challenges and focus on obtaining the benefits from geospatial data.

Next revolution

McVey said: “We’ve had revolutions in the way that financial services, online banking and transport are provided, turning once unimaginable possibilities into everyday realities. Now it’s the turn of the UK property market.

“Whatever homebuyers prioritise, whether it’s the quality of local schools, the probability of getting a seat on a train, or having easy access to leisure facilities, this technology could transform the way we find and purchase homes.

“And new technology will link builders to brownfield sites more easily, enhance how developers engage with local communities, help builders deliver new homes and modernise the way we buy and sell land and houses, cutting the time it takes to get housing from the drawing board to families getting the keys.

“The UK property sector is on the cusp of a digital revolution. It’s time to harness new technology to unlock land and unleash the potential of housebuilders in all parts of the country and to revolutionise the way in which we buy homes.”

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

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