Planning officers for Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have scooped a national award … having paved the way for technological advances as part of 21st century planning.
The Development Management team, which looks after planning matters for both councils, fended off stiff competition to win silver in the Best Use of Digital and Technology category at last night’s (Wednesday, March 4) annual iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards 2020 ceremony held at Church House, in Westminster, London.
The category recognises the innovative use of digital tools and technology that lead to an improved outcome and build dynamic local public services.
Judges commended the team for streamlining the planning application process for residents across the districts, bringing teams and systems together in order to become one of the top performing authorities for timely planning decisions.
Both districts have also benefitted from the introduction of electronic case management and a mobile app, meaning vital information is now more accessible than ever before for both officers and the public. This digital innovation has enabled the system to respond to an increased demand in public searches for information – which has leapt from 600K in 2017 to 1.3m in 2018.
These digital tools are just the start of the team’s dedication to pave the way for a 21st century planning process, with the possible use of future technological advances such as drones and augmented reality also in the pipeline.
This award builds on last year’s success for the team – they were a bronze winner at last year’s iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards and were also a finalist at the 2019 RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence.
Suzie Morley, Mid Suffolk District Council leader and cabinet member for Customers, Digital, Transformation and Improvement, said: “I’m delighted that our team is receiving the recognition it deserves for the innovative changes it has made to make life easier for residents and businesses going through the planning process in our district.”
And Clive Arthey, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for Planning, added: “This is testament to the work that goes on behind the scenes in order to find the best possible ways to support our customers and communities as part of the planning process – using technology to gather, share and use information to deliver the best possible future for Babergh.”