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Call for Collaborators: Future of Planning and Building Information Models

Future Cities Catapult wishes to bring together two key strands of its existing work programme – Future of Planning and Building Information Models.


Future Cities Catapult is seeking partners to develop an application for the next appropriate Innovate UK funding competition.  The project seeks to develop a working prototype of a digital planning system that enables the processing of planning applications to be largely automated.

Bid Concept

Future Cities Catapult wishes to bring together two key strands of its existing work programme – Future of Planning and Building Information Models.

Our hypothesis is that as both the construction and planning systems become increasingly digitised (see our work for DCLG as an example), there are opportunities to integrate the two systems. From this integration would come numerous benefits –

  • The potential to automate the validation/fit with policy of various elements of a planning application, resulting in a cost and time reductions for both planning authorities and applicants;
  • The potential to automate the creation of elements of environmental and transport impact assessments, as geospatial data is linked with building data;
  • The potential to use data to create greater speed and transparency around elements of the process such as viability assessments, s106 requirements etc;
  • Reducing the cost and technical complexity of using Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for public consultation;
  • Providing a richer set of data on which to conduct district and city-modelling and forecasting;
  • Greater certainty and granularity for infrastructure providers about the impact of new development on their networks.

However, there are barriers to achieving the integration between planning systems and BIM systems, which we aim to explore and overcome through this project.

  • A lack of understanding or research into which elements of planning policy could be ‘answered’ by BIM data;
  • A lack of understanding or research into which elements of planning application evidence base requirements could be modelled by combining BIM, geospatial and other available data.
  • Limited incentives for developers to produce BIM models prior to receiving planning approval;
  • No standards that would enable the linking of BIM data to geospatial planning datasets.

Project Approach

  • Research current planning application/policy requirements for different scales of development in different planning authorities
  • Deconstruct BIM models of historic developments (up to Level 2) to develop appropriate min-BIM data requirements to answer planning policy questions across a range of development scales and types, over time.
  • Develop cost profiles for the development of Planning Information Models and the time and resource efficiencies they would drive;
  • Develop open-compatible interfaces/data models/APIs and standards required for a more digital planning system;
  • Develop working prototype software system that integrates Planning Innovation Models with digital local plans;
  • Develop economic impact assessment and route to market for prototype product.

Partners Capabilities Sought

Future Cities Catapult has in-house expertise in a number of areas relevant to this proposal but is seeking to augment these with partners with capabilities in one or more of the following areas –

  • Architectural parametric modeling
  • Building Information Modelling
  • Construction cost surveying/development economics
  • Economic/Environmental/Social Impact analysis
  • Geospatial Data Science
  • Planning Consultants and lawyers
  • Local Planning Authorities
  • Professional Umbrella Bodies

About Innovate UK – Open Competitions

Innovate UK is to invest up to £19 million in innovation projects to encourage UK business growth in manufacturing and materials or infrastructure systems. They want businesses to collaborate on new integrated solutions and business models.

To be in scope, a proposal must demonstrate:

  • a clear game-changing and/or disruptive innovative idea
  • that your idea can lead to novel new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others in the field
  • a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses (and documents) market potential and needs
  • a team, business arrangement or working structure with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time
  • awareness of all the main risks the project will face with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money
  • a clear, evidence based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible following project completion

Funding Rules

All business partners will be expected to bring match funding to the project.  For technical feasibility studies and industrial research, you could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are a small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

If you are not familiar with Innovate UK competitions, it is recommended that you look at the general guidance for applications[3] in particular the finance guidance section.[4]

Registering Your Interest

Future Cities Catapult are currently seeking to partner with organisations that are interested in the Bid concept, have the capabilities outlined above and are interested in joining a consortia led by Future Cities Catapult.

Future Cities Catapult are undertaking a formal process of selection for interested organisations.  All organisations interested in joining the consortia are requested to register their interest by emailing Nathan Whittaker at nwhittaker@futurecities.catapult.org.uk with the following:

  • Two examples of recent, previous work which demonstrates the organisation’s capability in providing the services required within this consortia project.  Including explanation of the work carried out and the outcome and achievements of the project (Maximum ½ page per example)
  • An explanation of your understanding of the bid concept (Maximum ½ page)


Submission of the above information will be considered an expression of your organisation’s interest to join the consortia.  All registrations of interest must be submitted by email by Friday 25th May 2018.  The submissions will be reviewed by Future Cities Catapult based on experience, capability and suitability and you will receive a response on the outcome of your submission by no later than Friday 22nd June 2018.

Any queries about this call for collaborators should be addressed to futureofplanning@futurecities.catapult.org.uk

[1] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/innovate-uk-funding-general-guidance-for-applicants

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/innovate-uk-completing-your-application-project-costs-guidance/partner-finance-form-guidance

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[3] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/innovate-uk-funding-general-guidance-for-applicants

[4] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/innovate-uk-completing-your-application-project-costs-guidance/partner-finance-form-guidance

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