Online tracking application process

It is the case that within Development Management, evidence-based decision making through Development Plan policy and related assessment, must be balanced against the need for professional/ value judgements to be made. This does give rise to digital planning tools being better suited, in many instances, to processing performance evaluation, caseload management monitoring and to transparency. It is not envisaged nor appropriate for digital tools to replace professional and balanced decision making but rather to support consistency, collaboration and communication in planning authorities.

Open Digital Planning

Open Digital Planning is a collaboration between Councils and the UK Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC). They are a community of council officers, and digital and technical experts who are working together to design and build the next generation of local government planning services in England.

The overall aim is to create flexible software with better access to underlying planning data, allowing information to move seamlessly and helping to automate routine processes.

Currently, the collaboration of technical experts and Councils has led to the development of the following:

‘Plan X, a content management system for planning services, has two main types of services: Guidance and Application submission. These services provide user-friendly step-by-step guidance to applicants based on planning rules that help ensure applications are submitted right first-time, reducing the number of invalid applications a council receives.

Planning technology:

Find Out If You Need Planning Permission

Report a Breach in Planning

Planning data:

Apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development

Apply for a Prior Approval

Apply for Planning Permission [coming soon]

PlanX allows local authorities to collaboratively build and publish their own powerful, accessible digital planning services. It aims to make planning simpler for everyone. It is open source, which means anyone can use it or improve it, or provide commercial services around it, such as providing it as a hosted software service or helping write and maintain service content.

Back Office Planning System (BOPS)

BOPS is an application handling and document management system for local authority planning teams. It centralises the key functions needed to assess and determine a planning application into one system.

Additionally, it is designed around a best-practice workflow that planning officers from multiple councils have contributed to and tested over several years. It provides council planning departments with back-office case management and transactional functions using an easily navigational database.

BOPS currently has the functionality to process Lawful Development Certificate applications and Prior Approvals and is being used to test live applications.

The functionality to process applications for householder planning permissions and full integration with the Planning Portal will be ready by the end of 2023.’

Commonplace – Planning Application Engagement

The Commonplace app has been used in Watford Borough Council, London to transform the way that communities learn about and contribute to planning applications.

The main purpose of the app is to make planning applications more accessible to people. Planning notices can sometimes be lost, so this app makes these much more visible and allows communities to:

• Navigate a map for context on an area;

• Lists planning application titles in an area and their status; and,

• Opportunity to see images to show what a proposed development might look like.

Overall, this has been shown to save local authorities time and it is promoted as an easier way to keep everyone up to date from one place. The platform is also mobile so can be used anywhere and there is an opportunity to ask demographic questions to understand more about respondents.

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