North Devon Council seeks to level up local area and create efficiencies within its planning system with support from DLUHC and DEF Software
North Devon Council and DEF software, a provider of solutions for planning and building control service, are working in partnership on a new project to improve efficiency for the council’s planning department, through digital transformation.
In 2021 the council put in a bid to secure funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Pathfinder Project. DLUHC launched an Expression of Interest (EOI) to find councils who wanted to improve their existing development management software, so it could fully support the vision set out in the Planning for the Future White Paper.
North Devon Council was selected to take part in the project in January this year and it is partnering with its existing planning software supplier DEF. Together they seek to create efficiencies within the section 106 workflow, as well as the council’s Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) process.
Amongst their improvements, North Devon Council will use DEF’s Legal Agreements module, part of its MasterGov suite, to create new workflow for its section 106 process. The existing process uses numerous databases and spreadsheets, resulting in delays for customers. It also had data, such as records of houses being built, stored in siloes, risking disjointed information and slow collation.
The revised system, supporting the new process will pull all information and records into one place, speeding up the data processing and providing quick and reliable reports.
As part of the agreement, DEF will also work with North Devon Council to adapt their Policy Monitoring module for HELAA data. This means that, once complete, the Council will have an overall picture of a site from inception all the way through to its development. The improvements of these two areas will enable the council to approve applications faster and monitor them efficiently, benefiting the community much faster.
Jeremy Mann, Head of Planning, Housing and Health at North Devon Council says, “We look forward to seeing the improvements that will be created thanks to these changes to our planning system. We also hope that these innovations will become a model for other councils to follow.
The Pathfinder Project funding has helped us accelerate the project we had started and these positive changes will have a positive impact on our applicants’ community going forwards. We have a trusted partnership with DEF, who have been incredibly supportive, agile and knowledgeable throughout this whole process.”
Graeme Cooke, Commercial Director DEF concludes, “Councils are committed to improving their local areas, and navigating digital innovation can be challenging, and often it’s difficult to know where to start. North Devon have been extremely committed to this project, and we have supported them every step of the way. It’s been a very collaborative process and we look forward to seeing the impact the improved system will have in the North Devon area.”
Work on the project is already underway and expected to be complete by the end of 2022.