Every year, councils receive thousands of planning applications. The majority of these are for small projects, such as modifications to homes and other minor developments.

Around half of these applications are ‘invalid’. This means that some information is missing or incorrect, so the whole application has to be resubmitted. This makes the process of applying for planning permission hugely frustrating and costly for applicants. It also puts a massive burden on planning authorities too.

At the root of the problem is the fact that, today, planning information still has to be submitted in the form of documents which need to be manually written, checked and read, leaving huge scope for error. 

What if we could submit planning applications as data instead of documents?

That would mean users only need to be asked for information that is relevant to their project, and mistakes can be detected automatically. The result would be a simpler, easier, more accessible and more transparent planning service, for everyone.

Reducing Invalid Planning Applications is an open R&D project funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Local Digital Fund to explore and develop 21st century digital services across Local Government. The outputs of this project will be openly shared, in such a way that they can be easily adapted and adopted by any local authority or private sector company wishing to provide a digital planning submissions service.


London Borough of Lambeth (Lead)
Wycombe District Council
London Borough of Southwark
London Borough of Lewisham
London Borough of Camden

Delivery partner

Open Systems Lab

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