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You can watch a video of the morning’s presentations here.
After the morning was over, we put a couple of questions to the presenters to get a better idea about their projects both as they stand now and how they are planned to evolve in the future. You can read their thoughts here.
QUESTION ONE: What planning system challenges does your project address?
Emma Parnell: I think the biggest barriers to innovation in planning are being tackled by all of our projects. And that’s a lack of open data and systems that talk to each other.
Submit my Planning Application is an input point to the system but things won’t change without the work Open Systems Lab, mySociety, the GLA and Southwark/Unboxed are doing because our service is just one part of a wider system. I think the innovation is here, in collaboration.
I’d like us, as a collective, to get to the point where we have scalable technology that allows towns and cities to be planned and designed based on real-time evidence.
Peter Kemp: Getting people to thinking about the art of the possible, beyond statutory control is the need of the hour. We are working on a database to receive automatic data extracts from boroughs. We will then make efforts to hold this planning application data in a format that we can make accessible to Londoners.
Jack Ricketts: The desire and acknowledgement, by some, of the need for change, is there. Building PlanTech services and tools, whatever they may be, is not the challenge. By using agile principles and service design standards, innovation can be quickly realised. The real challenge to innovation is changing the culture and mindset of practitioners. No surprise as we are essentially disrupting a system that was established over seven decades ago in 1947.
Reimagining the management of planning applications by planning authorities sits in the middle of a process which encompasses the public, developers and all levels of government. Get this right and we will facilitate greater collaboration and efficiencies across the planning and development sectors.
Mike Thompson: Planning application data can tell us a lot about the housing and construction markets that, but there’s a lack of consistent, available data about planned developments and their locations. We’re trying to define a common level of planning application data that all local planning authorities can provide to help companies, citizens and government to get the insights they need.
QUESTION TWO: What is your next PlanTech milestone?
EP: We don’t have any set dates yet but we are currently scoping a phase of work with Hackney Council that will culminate in a public beta release of Submit my Planning Application for householder works. I expect we’ll be working towards a release sometime in the summer.
PK: We are looking forward to soft launching our database to see if it works.
JR: The next milestone to reach is the opening up of data to unlock land value and development viability.
Southwark commissioned a discovery which finished in December 2018 and suggested that it would be possible to reduce the cost of producing and evaluating developer’s viability assessments. Whilst we aren’t suggesting that we can simplify inherently complicated assessments, we do think that we can make significant improvements to their creation, data collection and, ultimately, the availability of evidence to local authorities so they can secure more affordable homes.
It is hoped that, together with Connected Places Catapult, Southwark can fund the alpha and beta phases with sources such it’s S106 admin fee.
MT: We’re currently working through the technical practicalities for our draft data pattern to understand where the data we’re asking for will come from and the technical options for how planning authorities could provide it.
If you’d like to comment on anything you’ve read in this blog post, join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #PlanTech.
The morning’s event was the first of what will be a number of opportunities to share what is happening in the world of PlanTech. The next two Show & Tells are scheduled for 21 May at our offices in London and sometime in July in Leeds where some of the other movers and shakers in the PlanTech industry will be presenting. Sign up to the next PlanTech Breakfast Show & Tell now.
The final breakfast will be followed by our Annual PlanTech Week which will include a conference on the 17 September. Stay tuned for more information.