Simpler, faster, more accessible plan making

We will develop tools and guidance that ensures Local Plans are underpinned by good quality data, simpler to produce and understand, are more accessible for users and can be adopted more quickly, with Local Plans in place in 30 months.

Our ambition is to bring plan making into the digital age – to provide faster, simpler, more accessible plans that deliver better outcomes, informed by up-to-date data and shaped more actively by communities and other stakeholders.  

This will, support the development of well designed, sustainable places, reduce inefficiencies and provide greater consistency, transparency and certainty in plan making. 

Reforming Local Plans will change users’ experience for the better, whether they are a local authority planner creating a Local Plan, an inspector examining it, or a citizen or developer wanting to engage and shape its content.  

We are learning from what is working and not working right now, to remove identified barriers wherever possible. We are building on digital tools, technologies and innovations from within our digital planning programme and beyond, developing a range of guidance and tools to support the varying needs of all users involved in plan making.   

This will allow planners to get Local Plans in place faster, ensure all parts of the community can engage more easily in shaping the content and provide greater consistency and transparency for Planning Inspectors to understand why decisions were made. Having up-to-date adopted Local Plans in place will provide the certainty and confidence that development will come forward that meets community needs. Our approach will ensure that even before a new system for plan making is fully developed, we can deliver plans more effectively.   

Our key outcome is to support the delivery of Local Plans in 30 months. To achieve this, we are working with users to develop emerging tools and products, including: 

  • Visualisation of plans, policies and spatial data. 
  • Templates, checklists and step-by-step guides to provide clarity and efficiencies. 
  • Standardisation of data. 
  • Dashboards for transparency and communication. 
  • Search tools to better access information. 
  • Automation tools and AI to process and report. 
  • The sharing of best practice through case studies and blog posts. 

The pace of technological change means we need to be ambitious in our reforms whilst bringing those who use Local Plans on the journey. User needs will inform how we roll-out change and ensure local autonomy and market innovation remain pillars of the new Local Plans system.