Towards automated planning data monitoring and a ’live hub’ of planning data in London

By Molly Strauss, Principal Policy and Programme Officer and Peter Kemp, Planning Change Manager at the Greater London Authority.

Here at City Hall we are really pleased to announce that London’s planning data automation project has received £100K in funding from the Government’s MHCLG Local Digital Fund.

The Mayor of London has committed to more than matching MHCLG’s funding during the same period, to ensure the project gets off the ground.

The project will enable us to make changes to the London Development Database.

The London Development Database (LDD) is a collaborative project between the Mayor and the London boroughs to monitor planning permissions, starts and completions across London. It has been running since 2004.

We have written about the problem driving this work, our vision for a solution, and how we’ll get there.

To recap:

Our ambition is to create a ‘live hub’ of planning and development information, accessible to all Londoners by reforming the information we collect and the way we collect it. We will request the data we need for monitoring up front, on the initial planning application. This data will pass seamlessly into authorities’ improved back-office systems, where planners will verify it, and then automatically out of those systems to City Hall and onto a public website.

We are working to reach this ambitious outcome by February 2020.

The Local Digital Fund’s contribution will allow us to prove the concept by April 2019, well in advance of our ultimate deadline. In particular, we will speed up delivery of the updated database that will collect the automated flow of data, along with upgrades to back office systems.

We submitted the bid with partners inside and outside of London: Plymouth City Council, and the London boroughs of Waltham Forest, Hackney, and Southwark. The project is also supported by Sheffield City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), who will serve as ‘critical friends’ throughout the process.

The funding will help London work collaboratively to ensure that the solution developed meets the data collection needs of authorities outside of the capital. By working together with rural and metropolitan regions, we can test whether our automation process and live data hub could be scaled nationally.

This could lead the way toward MHCLG’s commitment to develop a national register of planning applications.

London City Hall is committed to the Local Digital Declaration, and this funding will also help us run the project in an Agile, user-focused manner.

Our project is just one of a number of digital planning projects in progress across London that address different aspects of the planning and development management landscape.

We’re working together to ensure that our projects fit into a cohesive whole, and supporting one another as we move from planning to delivery.

If you want to find out about the 15 other successful projects funded in this round by MHCLG Local Digital, and keep up with future developments, you can do so via their newsletter or Twitter.