William Eichler 25 October 2021

Councils selected for £1m digital engagement trials

Councils selected for £1m digital engagement trials image

Thirteen local areas are to share £1m of Government funding as part of an initiative to boost public engagement with the planning process through digital innovations.

The funding, announced on Friday by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, has been allocated to 13 planning authorities under the PropTech Engagement Fund to test new digital initiatives to make the planning process more accessible.

The PropTech Engagement Fund was launched in August 2021. Local planning authorities were invited to submit bids for up to £100,000 to run pilots to boost engagement in Local Plan consultations, better publicise proposed developments, or to analyse consultation responses.

The selected projects include an online 3D map, which will be created by the London Borough of Hounslow. This will help residents to visualise and comment on proposals.

Watford Borough Council will use the funding to develop a QR code system for residents allowing them to view an interactive map and access planning information.

Greater Cambridge Shared Planning will also use digital technology to capture views outside of the formal consultation process, including social media comments, media articles and blog posts.

The pilots, which will run until March 2022, will inform the Government’s work to modernise the planning system.

‘We want to use digital technology to make the planning system fit for the 21st century and empower people from all backgrounds to get involved in decisions that impact their communities,’ said minister for housing Christopher Pincher.

‘From scannable QR codes giving people local planning information straight to their mobile devices, to interactive online maps, these digital pilots will help us create a more accessible and transparent system and ensure people are informed, engaged and can have their say.’

The planning authorities that will receive funding are: Dacorum Borough Council, Chesterfield Borough Council, Cotswold District Council, Southampton City Council, Greater Cambridge, Stockport Council, London Borough of Hounslow, London Borough of Wandsworth, Dorset Council, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Watford Borough Council, Bolsover District Council and North Lincolnshire Council.

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