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UK launches new digital planning tool

Aim is to create a more transparent system for the benefit of smaller developers and citizens

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Tool brings together land, planning and housing data from different government agencies
Tool brings together land, planning and housing data from different government agencies

A prototype digital tool has been unveiled to demonstrate the potential of bringing together land, planning and housing data from different government agencies, all in one place.

 

Under the auspices of a planning pilot commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the UK’s urban innovation organisation, Future Cities Catapult, set out to design a tool that would help speed up and improve the quality of plan-making and planning decisions.

 

The Land Information Platform aims to help planners, real estate developers and citizens, to identify and prioritise land suitable for future development. This would help accelerate the allocation of land for new development, predict development capacity as well as estimate development costs.

 

In the future, planning tools such as this will automate a variety of existing processes, freeing up planners’ time, reducing the costs to the public of planning, and creating a more transparent system for the benefit of smaller developers and citizens, said Future Cities Catapult.

 

“Local planning authorities would greatly benefit from new digital tools which help them to collect and aggregate land and planning data,” said Richard Blythe, head of policy at the Royal Town Planning Institute.

 

“This prototype shows the art of the possible, and it’s great that the Department for Communities and Local Government are looking into this.”

 

The prototype demonstrates how critical parts of local plan-making such as land identification, prioritisation and site allocations for development can be automated, speeding up and increasing certainty around housing capacity, strategic housing land availability assessments (SHLAA) or other similar processes.

 

By using a variety of dataset from Ordnance Survey and Land Registry, as well as historic planning data and open government information such as energy performance certificates, the tool would automatically screen and identify potential development opportunities.

 

In addition to identifying potential land, the tool will also be able to estimate how many homes could be provided on the site in a much more precise and robust way than through current methods.

 

“We are very excited about the disruptive nature of this pilot, and its potential to be a trailblazer for how data and digital tools can support planners, developers and citizens,” added Stefan Webb, head of projects at Future Cities Catapult.

 

“With the government’s manifesto commitment to create ‘the largest repository of open land data in the world’, the Land Information Platform demonstrates one of the ways in which public information can be used to accelerate the development process, increase certainty, and improve transparency.”

 

The digital prototype was launched at the UK property event MIPIM UK, which runs until 19 October at London’s Olympia.

 

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