Planning for the future

Author: Robin Barber

Robin Barber
February 8, 2021

By Robin Barber, Product owner – Built Environment at Arcus Global

As the product owner for the Built Environment suite, it is my responsibility to understand market changes and trends. As such I’ve been closely watching the comments and responses to the Government’s Planning for the Future white paper. It’s been particularly  interesting to see discussions going on around the newly proposed zoning concepts rather than the adoption of technology.

With the consultation finishing at the end of October, it’s still too early to tell what will happen or how the white paper will move on, but if the plans are met with little resistance then it is likely we’ll see some of these changes come into effect. For me, it is clear that we will see an increase in the need for digital planning services and at Arcus, we are ready for this revolution.

If you are looking to digitise planning and building control services, then it’s best to base your buying decisions on the here and now. We’ve been thinking alot about the changes we expect to see in response to the white paper and currently thinking along the following lines:

  1. The white paper encourages decisions based on data and not documents.  To support this, we are currently in the discovery phase of a monitoring app, which will allow  authorities to record details of housing and commercial developments. It will also let users record  data about  local developments, including commencement and completions. Having this data  to hand enables planners to make timely decisions based on up-to-date information.

  2. The white paper outlines plans to grant automatic permission for developments that sit in line with the relevant policies. So how do we start to automate the decision process? We’re currently exploring the idea of providing intuitive officer reports which suggest the most appropriate conditions based on the application details and the policies that apply to it, as well as stopping applications from being submitted that don’t comply.

  3. Here at Arcus we love collaboration and also understand the value of being able to visualise information. Using our network of Salesforce communities we’d like to be able to give citizens the opportunity to look up their local area on a map and see the planning and development policies that are relevant to them. Allowing them to comment accordingly and input the changes they would like to see. For example,  highlighting areas they would like to see earmarked for growth and sharing that data so others have the ability to ‘like’ proposed changes.

So what are the next steps at Arcus? Well, first of all, we’ll have to wait for the consultation responses to be published, but that doesn’t mean we want to stand still – that’s simply not our way. We have already built a mock-up of the monitoring app, and have been talking to some of you already about what that might look like. We are also closely looking at how we build a level of automation into the solution.

We know how important it is to our customers that the functionality of our products grows over time and we’ve already taken the opportunity to enhance data integrations with the Planning Portal. Currently we’re looking at how we can start to automate more processes based on information submitted against an application,  so can we look at how we suggest conditions against an application based on its type and constraints or how do we assist in the validation of applications? Then finally, later on, this year, we are hoping to look at how we can bring a greater level of collaboration to the Arcus Digital Services Hub products, allowing citizens to comment, suggest and support spatial policies.

If you’d like to talk to us about any of the above then please drop me a message at, you can find us on LinkedIn, or just go old school and give us a ring.

About Arcus Global

Arcus Global, formed in 2009 and based in Cambridge UK, is a market-leading GovTech cloud company, delivering mission-critical technology solutions that enable public sector organisations to transform their service delivery.

Arcus has developed a platform-based suite of Applications for Local and Central Government. Addressing the challenges in Citizen Digital interaction, Citizen relationship management and through specific platform-based case management solutions for Planning, Building Control, Licensing and Environmental Health etc.

Arcus has grown to over 30 customers including Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, The London Borough of Islington, Wiltshire County Council, Department for Culture Media & Sport and the Home Office.

Moving the Public Sector from ‘doing digital’ to ‘being digital’


Charlotte Fionda, Marketing Manager at Arcus Global