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Planning standards: The foundation of an effective digital planning system

The planning system is a potential goldmine of detailed data, insight and forecasts that could help create places and businesses that adapt in real-time to the always evolving needs of their citizens and customers. But it is not. The sheer volume of insight lost would be a scandal had it not simply always been the case.

Every year, over 450,000 planning applications are submitted, but we collect very little of the data contained in these applications – and that’s before you even consider the reams of supplementary (and costly!) data-informed analysis setting out the social, economic and environmental impact that forms the evidence base for each application.

In addition, the 364 local planning authorities in England are each commissioning their own evidence base documents when preparing for a new local plan. The results of this exercise are stored in non-machine readable PDFs, which are accessed on an ‘as and when’ need by humans who have to trawl through them to get what they need. The data being collected is not stored in such a way that utilises its full value.