Transforming Places Together: digital strategy for planning

This strategy defines a long-term strategic direction for how Scotland’s planning system will digitally transform, embracing the opportunities new digital technologies and data present. It sets out what we intend to deliver, why this is needed and the benefits this transformation will bring.

Mission 2 - Deliver an end-to-end digital planning service experience

We will develop new digital services, platforms and tools that will deliver an end-to-end digital planning service experience, using next generation technologies. By focusing on the whole journey through planning, we will be able to develop the interoperability between systems to facilitate a truly digital planning system.

Mission 2 - 5 Year Goals

2021 - 2025

A suite of new digital services for users that are simple, joined up and intuitive:

Smart Planning Application Service using data to simplify the planning application experience and remove time-consuming manual handling tasks in assessing applications.

Smart planning applications will:

  • Simplify and speed up the application process
  • Reduce invalid applications
  • Improve the understanding of when planning permission is needed
  • Improve workflow in processing and assessing applications
  • Allow direct participation of statutory consultees in assessing applications

Find & Explore service providing users with a unified and enhanced interaction with planning data, e.g. track my application, find low-carbon applications near me.

The Find and Explore service will allow people to:

  • Find and track application progress and search for relevant applications (e.g. low carbon)
  • Find sites
  • View local plans and policies
  • View award winning/inspiring examples

Engage & Get Involved service introducing new digital tools and channels to interact with planning and introduce more diversity amongst those who contribute to shaping places

The Engage & Get Involved service will allow:

  • People to comment on any application
  • Enable greater community involvement
  • Planners to more clearly understand feedback from communities
  • Planning authorities to produce more engaging plans

Track & Forecast service using planning data to draw greater insight and enable continuous improvement.

The Track and Forecast service will:

  • enable real-time monitoring of the planning system
  • provide the data to show policy impact in a more timely manner
  • provide the evidence for investment decisions and targeted interventions

A new Planning Scotland Gateway portal bringing the services, tools and data together as a single point of entry to information and services. The Planning Scotland Gateway will become the home for the new digital services, data and tools used in a future planning service. It will surface these to users including citizens, investors, developers, communities, architects and planning agents or other public sector bodies. The gateway will be device independent with additional support being provided for the digitally excluded.

Develop a modular digital planning platform underpinned by common standards, tools, platforms and next generation technologies including core capabilities allowing planners to prepare and present spatial plans, manage their cases, collaborate effectively and track business KPIs.

Contribute to the broader digital commitment to a world class technology sector in Scotland by driving growth in PlaceTech and contributing to a joint tech ecosystem and digital service hub approach being adopted within the wider Scottish Government.

Mission 2 - Priority Actions

2021 - 2022

Make improvements to the planning application process based upon incremental changes to the eDevelopment application service, and informed by lessons learnt during lockdown in areas that planning authorities told us caused challenges for application processing.

Develop new features within the current eDevelopment service to improve payment, document submission and management, and notification as components that will help address issues within the current service and also form the basis of the future Digital Planning service, allowing users to benefit from service improvements at an earlier stage.

Begin work on smart planning applications, initially focussing on helping applicants understand ‘Do I Need Planning Permission?’ and improving pre-submission validation.

As part of smart planning applications, begin work with planning partners to formulate consistent planning guidance on applications.

Design and publicly trial a first version Planning Scotland Gateway portal as a single point of entry to all planning information and services across Scotland, with a consistent user experience. The gateway will be the home for the first version of the Smart Application Service and guidance.

Procure a cloud technology platform for digital services, supporting integration with the wider public sector digital ecosystem.

Work with planning authorities to identify early adopters that will trial the first deliverables of the digital planning system (e.g. payments, cloud document management, notifications). Begin initial discovery work with partners on core platforms including case management and PlanMaker.

Develop user interface design standards which improve ease of use within the digital planning system.

Align with work on the Building Standards digital transformation programme and design a shared approach for services.

“The ability to easily cross reference and interpret data from a range of different sources on a geographical basis will make it easier and quicker to identify issues and promote potential solutions or derive policy objectives. It will also be much easier to monitor the effectiveness of planning solutions in terms of outcomes on the ground, including those relating to health and wellbeing.”

An Executive Director in a Local Authority

Building on success – eDevelopment

Launched in 2016, is the Scotland-wide planning and building standards portal, operating in partnership with all Scottish local and planning authorities. The portal builds upon the successful partnership working established in 2009 with the ePlanning portal.

Using, anyone can submit applications for planning permission, building warrants and related forms such as completion certificates.

The success of is clear with up to 95% of all applications for Planning Permission and around 70% of all Building Warrant applications made online through the service. It is estimated that the service has contributed up to £101.3 million in savings for applicants & £35.5 million for Scottish local authorities. has shown the progress that can be achieved through a truly collaborative approach and our digital strategy will build upon this, continuing to foster greater joint working with local authorities to realise benefits and improve the experience for those using the planning system.



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