ODP partners at our Team Together day

Benefits

Being part of Open Digital Planning opens the door to working with a community of likeminded Local Planning Authorities, central government and technology companies who are passionate about modernising local planning services.

Working collaboratively to modernise planning services

Open Digital Planning began by exploring what might be possible through newly developed products and services. However, over the last year, we have evolved into a community committed to modernising planning technology, data and practices.

We are working on an expanded offer for our members to help fast-track Local Planning Authorities on their service modernisation journey. We plan to launch this later in the year.

Benefits of the projects we have funded

Faster, smarter services

On average, up to 50% of planning applications are invalid when a council receives them. Good quality data publishing to the National Planning Data Platform, coupled with a submission service such as PlanX, which helps applicants to make sense of planning rules relevant to their project, make it more likely that a planning application will be valid.

Common errors related to the site location plan, the application form and planning fees can be reduced through services designed with the user experience in mind. For example, we estimate that PlanX can prevent as much as 71% of invalid planning applications. We are measuring the performance of live services right now.

Continuous improvement, informed by evidence

Good product development is led by evidence. All project partners contribute to an active metrics working group. We keep a close eye on the performance of services to understand where improvements can be made and to support the business case for adoption.

All partners have benchmarked their data and we are collecting information about live services to test our assumptions. We aim to publish updates on what we are learning as we go, including the results from improvement projects with established software providers in the future.

Our early results suggest that the time taken to validate an application is reduced by around 30% when validating a planning application using BOPS. PlanX is currently demonstrating a 20% reduction in the number of Lawful Development Certificate applications that are invalid on submission.

We believe that with better online guidance and better-quality applications received, planning officers will spend less time working through minor issues, and can focus on higher-value planning work.

“What I appreciate the most is our collaboration across disciplines. The diverse range of expertise within the ODP community not only fuels innovation, but also ensures that our solutions truly match up with the needs of planning teams.”

Stephen Barnes, Senior Planner (Digital Projects), Lambeth Council

Next steps

The PlanX and BOPS products will be processing householder applications by the end of 2024, and all application types by the middle of 2024.

New data standards for planning applications are currently in development and will be part of forthcoming legislation when the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is passed later in the year.

Members of our community are proactively working with established software providers to develop modern integrations between products in the market, as we lead the movement towards a more flexible market for planning software.

Currently, only LPAs funded by DLUHC’s Digital Planning Programme can join ODP. We aim to open membership to all Local Authorities later this year and to explore more effective ways to engage with technology companies so that we create a more open digital planning system together. 

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