Georgia Lichfields
Georgia Crowley of Lichfields would like would like to see the planning application process become more streamlined

Next gen | Lichfields

Georgia Crowley is a planner at Lichfields

What tasks do you think are going to be part of your job in the future?

Increasingly, we are seeing a much-needed move towards the adoption of technology in planning and across property more widely. This change will mean that less administrative tasks will be involved in my job in future. For example, monitoring of planning applications and the progress of local plans will hopefully be simplified with the information collated and updated online in real time to avoid the need for trawling through council webpages and PDFs looking at documents which are already out of date. With less time spent on such tasks which could easily be performed by computer, I see the time which can be spend on more meaningful work increasing, tasks which require genuine concentration and creativity.

How do you see your role developing?

Our roles as planners will inevitably change with new innovations and I hope to gain new skills in the analysis and use of data. Adaptability and digital competence should positively influence job progression.

As above, I see parts of my role becoming more hands on and hopefully more creative as some of my time is freed up to really contribute to the parts of projects which are enhanced by a human eye, such as design work. For example, planners could become more integrated in the early design process of developments, benefitting projects by designs being planning-policy compliant from the outset.

What are your ideas for change?

The property industry, in general, is incredibly data rich but data is not collected and utilised in particularly efficient or useful ways in many sectors, this needs to change or the planning sector risks being left behind. Data should become more accessible and understandable, while the necessary protections are still adhered to.

I would like to see the planning application process streamlined so that during the process of completing application forms, data is gathered immediately and only questions which are relevant for the specific application need to be asked and answered. This could be easily plotted on maps with the key application facts and stats shown without the need to navigate through multiple webpages and documents. These kinds of systems are slowly being introduced, including by local authorities such as London Borough of Hackney, but so far this has been for individual householder applications.

Where technology can also have a huge impact on the planning sector is in the consultation process, to collect stakeholder opinions and local knowledge. Tech-enabled public engagement will allow planners to reach groups which are harder to engage with through standard means such as town hall meetings. This could include satisfaction polls in the streets near to where developments or changes are taking place so that passers-by can simply press a button and contribute their opinion, as well as the use of social media. Virtual Reality is also on the rise, allowing developers to create virtual models of their proposals to better communicate with the public and decision makers what the scheme truly be like.

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