Planning Software Improvement Fund

£5 million of funding is available for councils to improve their digital planning services for residents and officers

The Planning Software Improvement Fund aims to help Local Planning Authorities in England (LPAs) to improve the digital services they use for the submission and assessment of planning applications – the development management side of local planning. There is £5 million available overall. 

The projects we fund will need to align with DLUHC’s vision for a new, more modular, software landscape to encourage digital innovation and provide access to underlying data. This will help automate routine processes, which will support faster and more certain decision-making.

The fund is currently closed for applications. You can read successful LPA’s project summaries below.  

Learn more

Funding for three types of projects

The fund invited Local Planning Authorities to apply for funding via one of three tracks:

Track 1: Adopt and design new services with councils

Join the Open Digital Planning project to adopt and work with other LPAs to design the PlanX and Back Office Planning System (BOPS) services for submitting and processing planning applications.

Track 2: Adopt new services and integrate with existing software

Adopt one of the Open Digital Planning software products (PlanX or BOPS), and work with an existing service provider on targeted service improvements and technical integrations.

Track 3: Improve existing software products and integrations with service providers

Work with existing service providers on targeted service improvements and technical integrations in line with DLUHC’s vision for digital planning.

Find out more about each funding track using the expandable menu below. 

Funding tracks

Project Summaries

Track 1

Successful LPAs in track one will join the existing Open Digital Planning project teams to co-design and deliver new, open source software – PlanX and BOPS. ‘These LPAs will learn how to develop user centred software in an agile way, and to deliver working software to residents and council officers at regular intervals.

The successful LPAs are:

  • Birmingham City Council
  • Canterbury City Council
  • Epsom and Ewell Borough Council
  • London Borough of Barnet

Track 2

The following Local Planning Authorities will join the Open Digital Planning Project to implement the PlanX ‘Find Out If You Need Planning Permission’ service, and the PlanX Application services.

They will work with their existing supplier, Idox, to develop and test integrations between PlanX and their Idox Uniform back office system used by their planning services to process applications. They will also begin the implementation of a new data standard for planning applications:

  • Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council
  • West Berkshire Council
  • Tewkesbury Borough Council
  • Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

St Albans City and District Council will join the Open Digital Planning Project to implement the PlanX ‘Find Out If You Need Planning Permission’ service, and the PlanX Application services. They will work with their exisitng supplier, Agile Applications, to develop and test integrations between PlanX and the Agile Applications back office AI Validation tool used by their planning service.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council will join the Open Digital Planning Project to implement the BOPS service. They will work with the Planning Portal to develop and test integrations between the Portal and BOPS, and to begin the implementation of a new data standard for planning applications.

Track 3

Liverpool Council and DLUHC’s DELTA team will be working together on an extensive piece of discovery work to build up an emerging picture of the problem and opportunity for reporting planning statistical data to Central Government. We will do this by understanding the problem from multiple perspectives beyond Liverpool including other Local Planning Authorities nationally.

Dover District Council, working with ESRI UK, will develop a tool to enable local authorities’ spatial data to be included in the National Planning Map. This will enable planning constraints information to be returned as part of the online planning application process, improving the accuracy of the application process for applicants and local authorities.

The London Borough of Redbridge’s goal is to improve the quality of planning application data received by their systems, enabling us to streamline and automate their manual processes. They will be working with Agile Applications and the Planning Portal to improve APIs between their systems; these improvements can then be shared with Local Authorities using the same systems.

Salford City Council will build open APIs between 3 systems so that information collected by the validation system (Agile Applications), can pre-populate the back-office system (Arcus Global) and provide access to the plan assessment system (Objective Trapeze). They aim to make data in applications more available and easier to be used and consumed by other systems.

Dorset Council aims to reduce invalid planning applications by providing better upfront information to applicants about their specific validation requirements. Working with DEF Software and the Planning Portal, they will implement a digital red-lining tool and improve data transfer using their biodiversity checklist to pilot a process designed around users’ needs.

Wirral Council will develop an API with their existing supplier Idox to enable using Microsoft Power BI for the production of planning reporting improvements from data stored in Idox Cloud services.

London Borough of Waltham Forest will continue to develop a front–end monitoring tool (called BuildUp) used in their Building Control service, which enables users to find information about the status of housing development. They will develop APIs to feed data into the tool and the exported data will enable the adoption of the solution by LPAs using the same back-office systems.

North Somerset Council aims to reduce the number invalid householder planning applications by creating an intelligent online form, linked to our data, that tells applicants exactly what documents they need to include with their planning application. We will work with the Planning Portal to roll out this functionality to their application forms, so that all LPAs can benefit.

North Lincolnshire Council will build a modern API to connect their application submission supplier (Planning Portal) to their existing back office case management solution (Arcus Global Built Environment). This will enable improvements to be made on demand from both suppliers without major impact, and an improved potential two-way data feed to enhance user experience and improve data sharing.

Benefits for Local Planning Authorities

Local Planning Authorities taking part in our funded projects will help shape new policy changes and be the beneficiaries of improved software that supports better and more efficient development management. The projects we fund will shape the new digital powers proposed in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

In addition, participating local authorities should see a reduction in invalid planning applications, data more readily accessible to officers and applicants, and quicker application processing.

Council officers can also take advantage of training related to Geographic Information System (GIS) and data, and build up a better understanding of technology in planning services. Open Digital Planning (ODP) partners will be encouraged to pursue training opportunities to improve their understanding of digital service design, writing good content, and other skills planners are likely to need in the future.

The Planning Software Improvement Fund Prospectus

You can read the original application Prospectus for the fund and information about the different funding tracks below. 

All applications had to be submitted using the online application forms by 23 December 2022. 

Track 1

Track 2

Track 3

Microsoft Word versions of the application forms for collaborative working ahead of submission were also available. Final submissions had to come via the online forms above. 

Microsoft Word template application form – Track 1

Microsoft Word template application form – Track 2

Microsoft template application form – Track 3

The team held regular Q&A sessions ahead of the application deadline. There were three sessions for council teams and one for suppliers.

Answers to questions from other sessions at the bottom of this page.

If you would like any more information about the fund you can contact the team by emailing

Questions and answers from the virtual Q&A sessions held so far.