Tewkesbury Borough Council has been awarded £300,000 from the government’s department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) following a successful bid to its Planning Software Improvement Fund.   

The funding will be used to help develop and implement a new digital planning service, called Plan X, that simplifies the planning process for residents and planning applicants.  

Plan X, which is still being developed, helps homeowners find out whether the work they want to do requires planning permission. Previously, this process involved time consuming research across multiple documents. Making the process easier to understand and providing upfront information on requirements will also reduce the number of invalid applications submitted.   

Tewkesbury Borough is one of the fastest-growing districts in the country – and the borough council recognises the demand that this growth will have on its services. It is anticipated that making the planning process easier will help to reduce the number of general enquiries and invalid planning applications being submitted and free up local planning officers’ time to work on complex planning decisions.  

Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Lead Member for Customer Focus, Councillor Mike Dean, said: “This successful funding bid is a brilliant example of how committed we are to improving our customers’ experience with us.    

“It is no secret that the current planning system can be difficult to navigate, especially for applicants who don’t regularly use it, and so we’re delighted to be joining other councils from across the country to help transform it.   

“Around 50% of the applications that come through to our planning team are invalid – meaning they must be returned to the applicant for changes. This new system will help residents access the information they need to complete a valid application by asking them to answer plain-English questions about their plans supported by clear diagrams.”  

The Plan X work will be led by the borough council’s award-winning Business Transformation Team, which was set up in 2020 to reshape the council’s online services.   

The team has already worked with DLUHC to improve customers’ access to its planning service. Last year, as part of DLUHC’s Pathfinder Funding scheme, the transformation team developed a Planning Application Tracker, which is set to go live next month.   

The tracker allows customers to subscribe to receive updates on planning applications – with automated updates being provided as the application moves through the different stages. 

Category: Planning