Councils to pilot interactive maps for local planning

Government-funded trial with 14 English councils will aim to modernise planning processes

Credit: Tony Hall/ CC BY 2.0

The government will give councils in 10 areas of England a total of £1.1m to test digital tools and data standards, following pledges in last year’s housing white paper.

The 14 English local authorities will test techniques including moving from long text documents to interactive maps that can be annotated and using a proposed land categorisation format.

The councils that successfully bid for funds are Birmingham; Newcastle and Gateshead; Stratford upon Avon and Warwick; Plymouth, South Hams and West Devon; Dacorum and Broxbourne, both in Hertfordshire; East Suffolk; Ashford in Kent; and two London boroughs, Hounslow and Kensington and Chelsea.

“We need a 21st century planning system which matches the way we all live our lives now. Interactive maps and digital plans could make planning interesting and accessible to more people in our communities,” said Kensington and Chelsea’s lead member for planning, place and environment Cllr Johnny Thalassites.

“We’re taking part in this pilot because we want to see development and growth that is right for our borough and to do that planning applications need to reach more of our residents at the engagement stage.”

Planning for the future, a white paper published in August 2020, proposed the use of digital tools to make it easier for people to access and understand information about specific planning proposals and improve their experiences of the planning system. It should be possible to view and comment on plans from home and through smartphones, rather than having to consult text-heavy documents, it added.

“Today’s announcement will ensure the planning process will be brought into the digital age. Communities will be reconnected to a planning process that is supposed to serve them, with residents more engaged over what happens in their areas,” said housing minister Christopher Pincher.

PublicTechnology staff

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