Council vows to speed up planning process with proptech funding

Nottingham has landed a £375,000 Government grant to improve 3D technology to modernise the planning application process.

The money, which has come from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), will be spent on enhancing a system to map the city in 3D.

The project is part of a national £3.2m scheme through the PropTech Innovation Fund involving 27 local planning authorities. Nottingham will work with Bradford Council on this particular pilot.

The city council has already been using some elements of 3D technology to inform planning decisions but says the new funding will enable it to take this much further.

Using the knowledge and learning gathered so far, the authority will work with suppliers, partner local planning authorities (LPAs) and other stakeholders to co-create a range of resources in the form of enhanced 3D tools, 3D data, demonstrators, and support and learning material.

The University of Nottingham has been a key stakeholder in the successful funding bid, which – through its strategic Digital Nottingham initiative – will add to the suite of 3D technologies the city council will use.

The university has developed a Projection Augmented Relief Model (PARM) that brings maps and models to life. It consists of a three-dimensional model of the city centre which can be adapted through the projection of map-based data from above.

From a planning perspective, it could be used to demonstrate exactly how a new building or development would look and fit alongside the existing infrastructure.

Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Planning at Nottingham City Council, said: “I’m really pleased that we’ve secured this grant money and been chosen as one of a select number of councils to push forward use of exciting new technology to enhance the planning process.

“We have a proven track record of successfully delivering funding bids and we look forward to working with colleagues at Bradford on this innovative project.

Paul Seddon, director of planning and regeneration at Nottingham City Council, said: “3D modelling is now an embedded and fundamental part of our assessment of the impact of major development proposals. It allows us to test and identify views of these developments and to accurately predict the impact of these, while we can more easily calculate site capacity and engage in negotiations over heights and floor space.

“It has enabled us to negotiate design improvements, while the ability to hold workshops with applicants around the model has been invaluable. It gives confidence to both planning officers and applicants about the appropriateness of a development and therefore the likelihood of planning approval being granted.

“Proposals can be reviewed without significant costs being incurred by a prospective developer and while reducing the amount of time being spent by council officers. This provides best value and improves the efficiency of the process.

“3D analysis has become a crucial tool within our service and I look forward to improving its use even further over the coming months.”

Professor Paul Grainge, academic director of Digital Nottingham at the University of Nottingham, said: “This is a truly exciting collaboration with citizen engagement at its core. The possibilities of digital and augmented mapping are opening out, and it has been thrilling to see colleagues at the council and the university working in partnership to explore how digital and physical 3D models can be developed in ways that will benefit the city.”