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 3 - Create the conditions for digital to flourish

We will integrate digital fully into our processes and ways of working, support the development of high quality digital skills in planning and create the conditions for digital transformation to succeed.

Mission 3 - 5 Year Goals

2021 - 2025

Develop consistent and coordinated business processes to underpin delivery of digital services and create the foundation for innovation.

Develop a culture that supports seamless integration of digital ways of working, whilst empowering planners and valuing professional judgement and non-digital interactions.

Establish a digital skills and capability programme including digital leadership, digital skills for public sector planners and working with academia to ensure graduates have key digital skills on joining the profession.

Embed a change management framework that supports public sector bodies through this transformative change by using an early adopter model, and providing practical tools such as digital maturity, capability and readiness assessments.

Establish a Future Planners programme working with schools and young people using digital to promote planning as a profession and help address current succession challenges.

Mission 3 - Priority Actions

2021 - 2022

Develop and embed agile practices within the programme, establishing multi-disciplinary delivery teams with representation from local government and other delivery partners.

Define, establish and implement a governance and change management model that aligns and integrates with existing frameworks.

Work with planning partners to develop consistent processes to support early deliverables

Define and agree a shared delivery model across the Programme, with a wide range of delivery partners and begin work with early adopters.

Work with existing initiatives e.g. the Scottish Digital Skills Academy to design and begin to implement a Digital Skills and Capability programme.

Sponsor a Future Planners fund and appoint a lead partner to operate.

Use digital to support development of key spatial planning legislation over the coming 24 months (National Planning Framework, Local Development Plans and Local Place Plans). Working closely with policy colleagues to integrate digital principles and ways of working that will help create data-driven policy, contribute to an end to end digital planning system and deliver improved presentation and engagement of key policies.

“Myself and staff are fully committed to the digital plan, we just need consistency to make sure we can drive this forward, in particular in training of staff. COVID-19 has made us need to recognise the complexity of the situation of needing to be digitally aware.”

A local authority Head of Service

“I’m reassured that the scope and vision for this is going in the right direction. I’m coming away excited. 3 parts excited, 1 part threatened, but that’s good – change should feel like that.”

Local Authority Planner

Developing better ways of working – Technology Landscape pathfinder

We understand the complexities of delivering the planning system, which relies upon effective interactions with multiple public bodies; central and local government, and key agencies such as SEPA and Scottish Water, each with their own technologies and plans to improve them.

Our Technology Landscape Pathfinder, undertaken during summer 2020 in partnership with the Local Government Digital Office, focused on reviewing the technologies currently employed in local authorities to deliver key aspects of the planning system, looking at issues like case handling, payment, and the technology used in developing spatial plans.

In reviewing these capabilities, we now have a clear sense of the areas with the greatest potential for improvement and crucially where we should first focus our efforts to deliver the biggest benefits. Our research highlighted the strong potential for digital transformation in Development Planning, and the importance of using technology and data to enhance the links between Development Planning and Development management.

2 overlapping rings illustrating the links between Development Planning, Development Management and Building standards

Developing better ways of working – Moving to agile

We will design and develop new services in-line with the Digital Scotland Service Standard and the Scottish Approach to Service Design, and adopt agile ways of working within the development teams that we establish for the programme.

An important aspect of our approach to agile will be to put in place multi-disciplinary teams with the right blend of skills including user research, service design and technical delivery. We will ensure that these roles are aligned to the DDaT (Digital, Data and Technology) profession, and that domain expertise is retained within the public sector.

To further develop collaboration with local government, specific roles will be offered to planning authorities, ensuring that the right expertise is brought in to guide programme delivery and helping build agile capabilities in local government

There are numerous advantages to adopting an agile approach, with iterative working improving collaboration with users of the planning system to ensure digital services that are designed with people in mind.

The Design Council’s Double Diamond illustrating high level design process



Back to top