Data pathfinder opens way to digital planning transformation
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The Improvement Service together with the British Geological Survey and Key Agencies group are undertaking a Digital Pathfinder project on data in support of the Digital Planning Transformation. This work is one of three pathfinders, which have been commissioned by the Scottish Government to support and prepare for the delivery of the Digital Planning Transformation Programme. The programme is working towards the introduction of new systems and ways of working, designed to facilitate a planning system that is more inclusive, efficient and which supports sustainable economic growth, to lead and manage the development and use of Scotland’s land in the long-term public interest.

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 was passed in June 2019 and a Digital Strategy for Planning is due to be published in 2020.

The Digital Planning Transformation programme will commence in autumn 2020 with the vision to create a world leading digital planning system for Scotland. Developing a clear and comprehensive understanding of data within the current planning system will be crucial in building a solid and sustainable foundation for a future planning system.

The Data Pathfinder project will examine: key aspects of data requirements, required data standards and governance, and exploration of appropriate future usage methodologies for environmental data. This latter aspect will be led by the British Geological Survey and Key Agencies sub-group ‘Environmental Evidence’, building on previous work this group has developed with the Improvement Service in partnership with several Local Authorities in Scotland.

The project will consider the range and depth of datasets and systems available for use in planning, alongside current and future requirements. This needs to be underpinned by data standards and governance, building upon best and emerging practice in the wider data and digital sectors. The project has the benefit of significant work invested in the Improvement Service Spatial Hub platform and in-depth research into environmental data requirements for the Local Development Plan process.

Despite the current challenge posed by COVID-19, it has been possible to commence work using virtual teamworking and consultations, benefitting from prior investment in digital and data sharing resources. This challenge should reinforce the outcomes arising from the Pathfinder and additionally influence the future direction of a digital and data-driven planning system.

Please contact Iain Paton with any questions, or for more information on Digital Planning Transformation, visit: