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Evolution not revolution is the key to Digital Planning

Evolution not revolution is the key to Digital Planning

Want to find out more about the future of Digital Citizen Engagement? Look no further than our recent Round 1 PropTech Engagement Fund Showcase…

Held on Wednesday 20th July 2022, the event drew over 650 attendees from a variety of backgrounds; from Local Government to Planning Professionals and PropTech entrepreneurs. The great turnout demonstrates the increasing level of appetite for digital planning transformation, especially in the world of Proptech and Digital Citizen Engagement.

Event Summary

The event was chaired by Bridget Wilkins (Head of Digital Citizen Engagement at DLUHC), with Simon Gallagher (Director of Planning at DLUHC) giving a visionary opening speech, landing the opportunities available for a data and user-led system. We finished with some industry reflections from Chris Standish (Senior Community Engagement Manager at Homes England), who encouraged us to think about how we empower communities with increased quality (as well as quantity) of engagement.

We were treated to presentations from Round 1 PropTech Engagement Fund participants, including Cotswold District Council, Chesterfield Borough Council and Watford Borough Council. These Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) summarised their journey to adoption of new Digital Citizen Engagement tools and gave us a flavour of their new digital platforms in action. Some of our key takeaways were as follows:

  • Cotswold District Council saw a 29% increase in the number of subscribers on their database, as well as a 74% decrease in officer time spent manually entering responses received via email and letter
  • Chesterfield Borough Council reported a whopping 28 working days of saved officer time, as well as a 63% increase in sites being submitted by members of the public (2022 vs. 2016 call for sites)
  • Watford Borough Council found that social Media posts were unmatched in driving traffic to the website, but that these platforms are not always a silver bullet for engaging young people

We’d like to thank these teams for presenting such engaging content and for offering their unique experiences of the Digital Citizen Engagement journey.

A screenshot of the virtual event showing attendees taking part in the panel discussion.

We also heard from Southampton City Council, Bolsover District Council and the London Borough of Hounslow as part of a panel discussion focused on Project Legacy and Long-Term Implementation. The panel’s experiences tackling underrepresentation and their innovative approaches to using social media, was all really thought provoking and generated huge numbers of follow up questions.

Overall, we’d like to give a huge thank you to all LPAs involved in Round 1 of the PropTech Fund, which has demonstrated the potential of digital tools and platforms to unlock more meaningful community engagement. Whilst we weren’t able to hear from all projects, the quality of outputs and learnings across the programme is testament to all teams involved and their commitment to pushing the boundaries of digital planning. Please see links below to explore the amazing platforms set up by each of the LPAs showcased:

More details on other LPAs involved in Round 1 are available here.

Although Round 1 has finished on paper, the community of practice that has been established will continue to grow. There is of course still so much further potential to explore and work to do as Round 2 of the PropTech Fund continues to progress, but looking back at the success of Round 1 we can see a huge number of achievements that everyone can already be really proud of.

Where to from here?

If you weren’t able to attend, or if you want to cast yourself back to the amazing presentations, you can re-watch the event on Youtube.

We’d love to keep you updated with all the amazing work going on here in the Digital Citizen Engagement team. If you sign up to the newsletter and follow the @LDgovUK Twitter account you can be kept up to date about the work we are doing across Round 2 and beyond. You can view the Terms and Conditions of our mailing platform here.

Finally, our dedicated website for Round 2 of the PropTech Engagement Fund lets you discover all of the new pilot projects being taken forward.

As noted by Chris McKinney in the panel discussion, ‘evolution rather than revolution’ is key.

We are excited to build on the amazing level of ambition and momentum for PropTech and the Digital Citizen Engagement space and keep working across industry to progress forward! Over the coming months, we will be publishing a range of insights and case studies from the PropTech Engagement Fund across Rounds 1 and 2, and we encourage you to reach out so we can discuss how we can support your own ambitions for digital planning and PropTech.

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Local Digital

Local Digital

The Local Digital team is part of the UK Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities. Read more about our work: https://www.localdigital.gov.uk.