Lockdown lessons will strengthen our system
While our planning system has continued to function, the public health emergency does highlight what we can do to improve it. Over the next three weeks, we’re speaking to service managers and operation leads from local authorities across Scotland about how they’ve coped with the lockdown restrictions, what more we can do to help and what we can learn from them.
Dave Hall, Deputy Head of Digital Planning, explains more about our online workshops. “Before the crisis hit, we had already developed a good understanding of what will improve the planning system and this has been reinforced by restrictions of working during lockdown. By speaking directly to those who deal daily with applications, we’ll hear more about the difficulties they’ve faced, how they’ve resolved them and what we can do to build a more resilient planning system. We want to relieve the pressure on our colleagues and learn. What we do now, will be the starting foundation for digitally transforming the system.”
Our immediate focus
We’re focusing on five aspects of our planning system impacted by COVID-19. The first is public consultation. Local authorities and developers must publish their plans so people can scrutinise them and have their say. With social distancing rules, more councils and developers have turned to online tools to engage.
Another topic is paper applications. About 96% of all planning applications are made online through our eDevelopment portal. But that still means local authorities are dealing with a small percentage of paper applications during the crisis. The other three areas we’re focusing on are:
- An online payment system
- Neighbour notification and site notices
- Site inspection visits
Helping to shape digital transformation
What we learn from the workshops will influence the digital transformation of planning. Working with all interested parties, we’ll explore what we may be able to deliver sooner than we’d planned, before COVID-19. Anything we develop will then be of use longer term, as we develop new technology and a more resilient planning system.