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Scottish Government outlines digital ambitions in planning


Mark Say Managing Editor


The Scottish Government has outlined plans for the development a suite of new digital services in planning over the next five years.

Map of Scotland

Its Local Government and Communities Directorate has published the plans within the new Transforming Local Places Together strategy, saying it defines the digital transformation of Scotland’s planning system.

This comes shortly after it announced plans to invest £35 million in a central platform for planning data, one of the prime elements of the strategy.

The document highlights the potential of the platform, saying it will open up data for the public, private and academic centres to give planners the right information and support innovation.

This aligns with the beginning of work on cleaning and opening up priority data for place based planning.

Among the other digital services in the pipeline is one for smart planning applications, aimed at removing manual handling, speeding up the whole process and encouraging direct participation of statutory consultees.

Along with this the directorate plans to develop a ‘find and explore’ service for users to find planning data and track applications, an ‘engage and get involved’ service for people to interact with the process, and a ‘track and forecast’ service to monitor the system and provide data on policy impacts.

New portal

These will be accompanied by the development of a new Planning Scotland Gateway portal, bringing together services and tools to a single point of entry, new features for the current eDevelopment service and work on smart planning applications.

The strategy also outlines plans for a digital skills and capability programme, a change management framework, a future planners programme with schools and young people, and developing a culture of digital ways of working.

Writing in the document’s foreword, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning Kevin Stewart, says: “As we begin to stabilise and recover both socially and economically, a resilient and efficient planning system designed to meet the needs of people will be more important than ever.

“We need to give communities easier ways to engage with a system that can often prove challenging to navigate and understand. We need to give planning authorities the tools to create and shape their places. And we need to give developers confidence and certainty that Scotland is open for business.”

Image by macroflight, CC BY-2.0 through flickr

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