Local plan pathfinders
in progress

Funded pathfinder projects intend to test digital and data aspects of the planning reforms. These reforms are set out in the planning white paper. The projects will inform policy and demonstrate how the reforms can benefit the local government sector.

The new style local plans pathfinder programme has the goal of speeding up the planning process. It will bring together four local planning authorities to look at the digital transformation of their local plans. Transitioning to interactive map-based local plans will be underpinned by machine readable open data.

Why we are looking at local plan pathfinders

The local plans pathfinder will allow us to work collaboratively with selected local planning authorities. This is to gain an understanding of which policy areas are key for the new style local plans as set out in the Planning White Paper. We'll learn what data is currently available and where new policy areas need to be defined.

Through the course of the pathfinder, we will aim to collect existing local plan policy data and test it against our proposed data standards. We will test whether tools and guidance can support local planning authorities in publishing high quality data.

What are we focused on

Over the course of the local plans pathfinder, we'll learn about what data already exists and how we can best support local planning authorities. The pathfinder will initially focus on four areas:

  1. where data is already being published either by a local planning authority or at a national level
  2. where data exists but isn't currently publicly available
  3. where existing policy areas exist but the corresponding data needs to be created
  4. where new policies areas are defined through the course of the project

Any data relating to the existing policy areas we'll make available during the pathfinder project.


  1. Local plan pathfinders report

    2021-11-24 update

    We have published a report that summarises the findings from the local plan and sites pathfinders.

  2. Partner local planning authorities announced

    2021-06-02 update

    Government announces which local planning authorities will be participating in the local plans and sites pathfinders.

  3. Existing policy areas

    2021-05-11 update

    We're keen to understand from local planning authorities which policy areas are key to their local plan. As a starting point we've identified some of the existing policy areas that we think might be interesting to explore.

    This list isn't exhaustive and some of the areas may not apply or be considered important to all local planning authorities.

  4. Started