tablet featuring the BOPS product

Our vision

We have an ambitious ten-year vision from 2023 to 2033, which aims for all local councils across England to benefit from better technology, data and working practices.

Why it’s needed

The current planning system in England is based around the submission of documents, rather than making the best use of the rich information contained within them.

Open Digital Planning is positively changing the way local councils deliver planning services by:

  • increasing collaboration between planning teams from different councils
  • developing new technology to demonstrate how to speed up the decision-making process
  • reducing the reliance on paper documents and drawings
  • listening to feedback from applicants in rigorous user testing, so that new services are fit for the future
  • sharing and promoting best practice in the sector

Our progress so far

Councils benefit from feedback and metrics that support the continuous improvement of the services - these show that processing time and numbers of invalid applications are steadily falling since adopting ODP products.

Council officers are learning new digital and data skills through their involvement in the Open Digital Planning (ODP) project. They are applying these skills in practice and learning from colleagues in other partner organisations. They also have access to key learning sessions that cover topics such as user research, content design and human-centred design.

Looking ahead, other software providers are developing modern integrations with ODP products so that they can work together. This has started with modern API integrations between applications, such as the Planning Portal and PlanX, and back-office systems used by councils for application processing.

By 2025

Open Digital Planning (ODP) will be a community of users that has adopted multiple products that greatly improve the planning application process for applicants and officers.

Key deliverables:

  • a proven way of scaling planning services to large numbers of local planning authorities in England
  • a service that can process most types of householder planning application
  • a user experience that’s simpler and more accessible
  • planning authorities receive better quality applications when using ODP services -so fewer invalid applications and less admin work
  • more data and digital skills for planners and efficient ways of working enabled by better software
  • growing adoption of ODP products by councils aided by a clear adoption path and evidence of measurable benefits
  • ODP becomes a legal entity that oversees transparently priced products that are financially sustainable and continuously improved

By 2033

Open Digital Planning (ODP) will be at the centre of an ecosystem of advanced digital planning services that underpin England's digital and data-led planning system.

Key deliverables: 

  • ODP is a coordination point for a community of forward-thinking individuals and organisations in the built environment sector
  • ODP-supported services in live use for the majority of local authority-built environment services
  • applicant experience is simple and convenient - accurate planning applications are submitted no matter which software is used
  • councils benefit from extensive automation, eliminating admin work where possible. Officer time is therefore spent on high-value work, such as major and strategic schemes, plan-making and better resident engagement
  • all planning data standardised across the country and accessible by the public, tech companies and public bodies
  • planning decisions are informed by data insights
  • planners form part of a forward-thinking and digitally capable profession that people want to work in
  • other software providers sell planning services software