Three local authorities are to run pilot projects using geospatial technology to support the planning process under a funding competition run by geospatial information system (GIS) supplier Esri UK.
Dacorum, Nottingham and South Ayrshire Councils will use the technology to deal with issues that are common in local government.
The Dacorum Borough Council project will involve translating text and spreadsheets by using digital mapping to manage and communicate developer contributions, secured through planning obligations.
Its portfolio holder for planning and infrastructure Cllr Alan Anderson said: “The objective is to use digital mapping to help with not only decision making around the planning of new infrastructure and make the whole process more transparent, but also to support community engagement.
“Our current system outputs are test and spreadsheet based. We believe that by providing this information in a spatial way it will provide a powerful asset which can be used by council officers and others for planning, decision making and monitoring, and also by the public to enhance understand and engagement in infrastructure funding and planning.”
Nottingham City Council will explore how the technology can increase the use of 3D visualisations in planning. This is aimed at helping teams conduct assessments of constraints on a site.
The council’s GIS service manager, Mick Dunn, said: “GIS will bring other capabilities too, from in-depth flooding analysis to view analysis, which we would like to be able to share easily with interested parties.
“We feel this could be pushed even further, perhaps being able to provide virtual reality consultation on sites.”
The South Ayrshire Council project will examine how a community consultation platform with new methods of engagement can help to improve community involvement in local development plans.
Planning technician Gordon Wilson said: “Our vision is to build on the work already done by South Ayrshire in creating its LDP2, developing new apps and information to create a local plan community engagement and consultation hub, which will be more accessible, as the majority of people are now online.”
Making process easier
Esri’s head of sector for land, property and planning Stephen Croney commented: “By combining each council’s domain expertise with our team of geospatial experts, the pilot projects will explore new and efficient approaches to problems all designed to help make the planning process easier for everyone.”
He added: “Spatial data provides the common language to join different data together and make it meaningful.”
The company is also setting up a customer advisory board as a forum for local planning authorities to discuss best practice and common problems and goals.