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Digitising the Planning System: Post-permission Planning

Related themes: Integrated Urban Planning

Future of Planning: Prototyping a solution for planning

Future Cities Catapult has developed a new prototype, Plantraq, that will disrupt the post-permission planning phase by simplifying the application process to create more transparency.

This prototype is launched today as part of a new report from Future Cities Catapult, which aims to address frustrations that planners, developers and consultants alike have voiced with this particular stage of the planning application process.


The Future Cities team looked at the challenges facing the ‘post-permission’ stage. Planners, developers and consultants alike have voiced their frustrations at dealing with permissions after they have been received, particularly with planning conditions attached to decision notices. There is no point improving and innovating the planning application process if the post-permission stage is forgotten.

Planning conditions are instruments of the planning process that exist to make sure construction meets the criteria for development guidelines once a planning application has received permission. Unresolved issues that might hinder the application through the planning process quite often get moved to the conditions stage where a fair list of issues to be resolved before the permission is implemented, can all too frequently become a long list of difficult to manage issues that need time.


One of the challenges was the time limit on decision notices and the race against the clock to get the permission implemented and the permission ‘expires’, rendering the whole process obsolete.

A further challenge was the breakdown in communication and management of the post-permission process. In addition, where amendments are necessary, it is not always clear upon which condition these changes will be discharged.

Thirdly, there is a challenge for citizens who feel locked out of the system once a decision has been made and simply want to know how development in the area is shaping up.


The prototype that has been developed, looked at harnessing data within the planning application process and using that to manage the identified challenges. The concept plays with the idea of making decision notices ‘live’, where the information is digitally stored and updated automatically across all users databases when a condition is varied or if and when there are any amendments.

The live timer also dates the decision notice and alerts users if there is an impending expiry date or a deadline for particular conditions. It also updates if the permission is implemented – and gives estimates for how long development could take based on the machine’s understanding of that type of development. In addition, the prototype is also created to links directly between the planning authority and agent, so all post-permission tasks are identified accordingly.


Over the past year Future Cities Catapult has been working on the Future of Planning – a programme that looks at how digital transformation can improve problem areas of the planning application process and create a digital planning service.

Future Cities Catapult has identified areas of interest that have been backed up by user research and insights work, enabling deeper dives into the areas of the planning process that could be improved and have a wider impact upon the whole system through digital transformation. So far, the team has approached and prototyped areas in application submissions/validation, pre-applications, public consultation, monitoring housing lifecycles and many other areas.


Download the report here.


For any media inquiries, please contact Anja Van Der Watt avanderwatt@futurecities.catapult.org.uk

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