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Friday01 August 2014

RIBA calls for planning process to be digitised

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Report says better access to data would mean better design

The RIBA has called on the government to make data from the planning process more accessible in a bid to improve the design of buildings and public spaces.

A report published by the RIBA today calls for a working group to be established which would ‘digitise the planning process’.

The recommendation is one of several which the institute believes could improve architects’ work by providing better access to data on cities and people.

Information relating to planning applications is too often contained in inaccessible formats like PDF which limits the extent to which it can be used, the report says.

RIBA president Stephen Hodder

Source: Gareth Gardner

RIBA president Stephen Hodder

RIBA president Stephen Hodder said: “This report must signal an end to clunky planning application websites with their overly long reference numbers and multitude of pointless scanned documents, data collection needs to be standardised across the country, easily accessible and open to everyone.

“The RIBA are looking to a future where data will enable architects to unleash their creativity in ways that are currently too expensive or time consuming to create the best buildings possible.”

The report also outlines ways in which various other sources of data could also be used to inform the design process.

Examples of data sources include passenger information from Oyster card users, mobile phone location data and sentiment analysis of social media.

Better access to data could facilitate better design and public services while also providing a way to test and model both buildings and public space.

Léan Doody, lead consultant for smart cities at Arup, and author of the report, said: “We have all been in situations when we are frustrated by our environment; when we are unable to park, roads are over-crowded or pavements too narrow. Analysis of open data provides the possibility of avoiding this.”

The report acknowledges that using some data sources could prove controversial and points to the need for privacy issues to be considered.

We need to identify ethical standards for how public data is used,” it says. “The public need to be comfortable with how their data is used and should have the right to opt out if they wish.”

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Readers' comments (8)

  • Whilst I can only commend and support anything that reduces the bureaucracy, is there not the risk with an open digital format of tampering. We all protect our copyright to design and carry rightly a heavy professional responsibility for it, together with ever costly PII, however what comfort will we have that a third party with access, compromises the design and the problem ends up on the authors doorstep.

    JCA West Sussex

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  • I never realised that the data contained in a planning application could help unleash economic growth. I must remember this next time I put in a planning application for an extension.

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  • My LPA (Chichester District) makes all planning application documents (even internal comments from officers) accessible to view on its website. Documents on appeals can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website. None of these documents can be edited on-line.
    I comment on planning applications for a civic society and I think these arrangements are effective.

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  • grapefruit

    ... you talking to me? Well I'm the only one here.

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  • seems to me RIBA calls for planning process to be homogenised not digitised.
    Information relating to planning applications is already available on Council websites, according to local preferences and resources. I suggest the variety reflects localism, where
    local plans are similarly are produced in a variety of formats expressing local policies . i can't see how this impedes
    the design of buildings and public spaces.

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  • The RIBA plush officer mandarin oaf gnomes are sipping excessive Ethiopian coffee off late with their brilliant brain storming. How in the world is their recent mumbling going to improve they wretched lives of british architects, they do not know, but will be planning on putting the question up for probable selection in a discussion agenda someday. In the meantime, goat milk is almost out in the coffee bar.

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  • The planning process should align with other initiatives like BIM and join the 21st century rather than being mired in Victorian obfuscation and inertia.

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  • Hmm. I they're right. This could provide many underfunded councils with an opportunity to charge for this 'open data' (oxymoron shurely?). I cannot see a problem with the process as it is (perhaps just me?) what is daft is that even pdfs submitted electronically are then printed and scanned!
    BIM as 21st century - interesting take.

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