Planning officers for Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are in the running for 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, is shortlisted in the Best Use of Digital and Technology category at the annual iESE – Public Sector Transformation Awards 2020.
The category recognises the innovative use of digital tools and technology in order to improve services for residents.
Judges were impressed by how the team had streamlined 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.
The team has also introduced electronic case management and a mobile app in order to put vital information at the fingertips of officers and the public – with public searches of information leaping from 600K in 2017 to 1.3m in 2018. And, although not yet in use, they have started to pave the way for future technological advances, such as the possible use of drones and augmented reality as part of the 21st century planning process.
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.”
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.”
The team must now wait until the awards ceremony in London on Wednesday, March 4, to find out if they have managed to fend off competition from the category’s other shortlisted finalists: Cumbria County Council and East Ayrshire Council.
The ceremony will be live streamed from 6pm for anyone wishing to follow online.