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West Berkshire Council launches digital planning service


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Section of digital planning map
Image source: West Berkshire Council

West Berkshire Council has launched a beta version of an online service for residents and local businesses to check if they need to submit a planning application.

It has developed the service with the Open Digital Planning network and with funding from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Planning Software Improvement Fund.

It said the service makes it easier for residents who need to check whether they need to submit applications for works such as installing solar panels, loft conversions and adding an outbuilding or dropped kerb.

Phil Rumens, West Berkshire’s digital services manager, said on LinkedIn that the service uses national datasets, the council’s own – which it has made available as open data – and information entered onto its form.

It includes features such as the ability to draw a red line around the boundaries of a proposed building area, and pictures to make it easier to understand some of the planning regulations.

He described it as “a big step forward in what we offer online as a local planning authority”.

Recommend testing

Cllr Tony Vickers, portfolio holder for planning and community engagement, said: "This service is aimed at householders and small local firms and property professionals. I have tested it myself and recommend others do so too.

“Like any new bit of technology, we believe the end users need to have an opportunity to try it before it goes fully live. This will save our hard pressed planning officers time, hence save local taxpayers money while giving them access to information they need. I found it very easy to use.

“This service underscores our commitment to fostering community engagement and delivering efficient services."


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