Faster and more efficient planning decisions

We are building modern services for submitting and approving planning applications in collaboration with local authorities and delivery partners. These services will speed up decision-making for planning officers and applicants.   

Due to better use of data and more flexible technologies, LPAs will have more choice on development management software in the market.  

DLUHC is working with LPAs and technology companies to modernise the software used for submitting and managing planning applications, making processes data-driven and efficient. 

The planning system in England still makes limited use of digital tools and many citizens find it difficult to understand.  

Many planning teams rely on software that needs upgrading or has not kept pace with wider technology change. As a result, council officers spend avoidable time on manual processing and admin tasks. Our work aims to improve the user-experience for people applying for planning permission, and to reduce errors, time and costs for local planning officers.   

DLUHC’s Digital Planning Programme has been working with LPA planners to translate complicated planning legislation into machine-readable rules.  

These rules can then be incorporated into modern software and services which are able to reuse data, putting the needs of users at their heart to ‘design out’ common mistakes.   

Collecting data from different sources and making it available consistently in national datasets via makes it possible to create modern, open source software which can be used not only by the LPAs DLUHC currently funds, but others looking to adopt new (or improve their current) services.  

Key outcomes will include:   

  • More LPAs in England using modern software that enables them to make planning decisions at least 20% faster.  
  • Digital planning services providing a better experience for applicants, building certainty, trust and efficiency into the process of applying for planning permission. 
  • Greater flexibility in the planning software market, whereby different systems can connect to each other more easily and the flow of data is seamless, enabled by common data standards. 
  • Encouraging and enabling local authorities to develop new digital skills through funded project work. 
  • Ensuring that all funded project work can be reused by and benefit other organisations, both in the private and public sector.

The programme has two main tracks of work to achieve this vision: 

  1. Supporting a group of pioneering councils and digital agencies to develop new software products that prove that things can be done differently through the Open Digital Planning project. This visionary work champions planning services being designed by planners themselves. A submission tool called PlanX and the Back Office Planning System (BOPS) are currently in development. 
  1. Funding councils on projects which focus on collaboration with their existing software providers, to improve current products and develop the overall digital planning product ecosystem. 


We provide funding to LPAs to support this area of work. Find out more on this dedicated webpage.