Dacorum Borough Council, along with 10 other councils, has been awarded a share of a £1.1m Government grant fund to implement the use of digital tools in the planning process.
The new system will use the latest technology through online maps and data to make planning proposals more accessible and interactive.
Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP made the announcement on 2 June 2021 following on from the Planning White Paper ‘Planning for the future’, published in August 2020, which proposed reforms to the planning system to streamline and modernise the planning process. The pathfinder programme will look at the digital transformation of local plans to increase community involvement and speed up the planning process.
Dacorum Borough Council will test how its existing Local Plan translates into the new system. This will involve moving away from long text documents to interactive mapping with clear information available on the type and content of development that will be supported in areas across Dacorum.
The new tools will enable council planners to understand the impact of proposed land designations and implications on land allocated for development and to use this to inform a wide range of planning policies.
Community engagement will continue to play a key role to ensure that the voices of the community are heard in the planning system. In the new system, digital tools will be key for making planning proposals more accessible and interactive, supporting the ambition for more effective community engagement.
Cllr Alan Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Infrastructure at Dacorum Borough Council, said: ‘We are excited to have been chosen for this programme to introduce a digital system using map-based, accessible, online information that will make it easier for people to engage with planning in their local area. We know from our recent local plan consultation that residents are extremely keen, and able, to engage with the planning process online and we want to build on this foundation to ensure we develop the homes and infrastructure our community needs in the future.’
Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, said: ‘We are moving away from notices on lampposts to an interactive and accessible map-based online system – placing planning at the fingertips of people. This 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.
‘While the current system excludes residents, who do not have the time to contribute to the lengthy and complex planning process, local democracy and accountability will now be enhanced by technology and transparency.’