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Is the planning system in need of a digital revolution?

Written by James Wood

Senior Account Executive

I recently attended an event entitled ‘Making the planning system work for the 21st Century’. The purpose of the event was to look at ways in which the planning industry can modernise to deliver better results for communities, stakeholders and developers.
What’s the problem?
It’s no secret that the planning system has not exactly led the way when it comes to innovation – especially the digital kind. Construction finds itself languishing alongside agriculture as one of the most un-digitalised sectors around.
The planning system suffers as a result of this. Local communities are not as engaged in the planning process as they should be, yet the demand for new homes continues to rise while the supply is stifled, in part, by a slow and laborious planning process.
What’s the solution?
Dragging the planning process into the 21st century is a big task and both developers and local authorities have a part to play. However, to bring about change, both sides must be incentivised.
With a clear trend emerging of more and more people engaging in the consultation process online, there are clearly significant benefits on offer to developers who invest in digitalising the consultation process.
By taking their consultation online, developers have the opportunity to engage with a much wider segment of the community. The benefit of this is that, in turn, it helps to unearth the local support on which the success of an application could hinge.
Consultation Online
At Remarkable we have extensive experience in this field and have been assisting our clients with our very own Consultation Online platform.
Consultation Online is a powerful tool that enables you to discover your audience, create awareness, build engagement, mobilise support and report back. It isn’t a ground-breaking idea – it is simply using websites and social media to your advantage in the planning process.
With 4-in-10 adults getting their news from online sources, ½ of the world internet users on Facebook, and 21.6 million Twitter users in the UK alone – harnessing the power of this online age can deliver impressive results for your planning projects.
Case study: Websites
In 2015/16 the majority of McCarthy & Stone’s proposed developments featured a detailed community consultation programme – this included the provision of dedicated websites.
The impact was that during 2015/2016 McCarthy & Stone had over 26,365 hits on their consultation websites, with 2,814 people attending our public exhibitions and 78% of people attending exhibitions finding them informative.
Case study: Social Media
In the autumn of 2014, Remarkable worked with Taylor Wimpey to trial the use of social media on their proposals for Lydiard Tregoze.
Social media was employed to introduce the project, raise awareness of the consultation and promote feedback. This online engagement helped to foster an ongoing and evolving relationship with residents and stakeholders which in turn helped to minimise negativity from the local community.
What’s more, a total of 14 sales enquiries were also registered through online channels (representing around 1/3 of the number of homes being proposed).
The planning process is beginning to show signs of moving in the right direction – but there is a long way left to go.
Because councillors make decision with their heart – as much as their head – when you submit even the most watertight application you still need to convince members that this development, above all others, is what is needed in the local area.
If your consultation is not online, you really are missing a trick to get ahead in the planning process.
Want to know what Remarkable’s Consultation Online platform could do for your next project? Get in touch with Miles Willshire.
Click here to download our guide to Consultation Online.

Planning, Consultation, Consultation Online, Planning application