Insights article

Leveraging the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act: The Future of Digital Planning

Alex Moon
Published: 14/05/2024

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The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act (LURA) 2023 received royal assent in October 2023. A titanic piece of legislation spanning more than 500 pages, it has already been said to have implications for house building, urban design, and planning. As the technical lead at PlaceChangers, I want to share some thoughts what this means for proptech and, in turn, what that means for the planning industry.

At PlaceChangers, we have been shouting about the need for recognised and accepted data standards in construction and land management for years. Discrepancy or lack of adopted standards is the most significant barrier to digital planning. 

I believe the LURA - specifically Part 3, Chapter 1 of the act, entitled “Planning Data” - creates fertile ground for innovative digital planning software to change the way we design and build our cities, enabling us meaningfully to revitalise communities and to make the kinds of places in which people thrive.

Let’s look at four critical areas in the 2023 Levelling Up and Regeneration Act that we think will make a sizable difference in planning.

Streamlining planning processes

Sections 84 and 85 mandate local planning authorities to comply with specified data standards and, secondly, to mandate data standards. With the power to dictate the form and manner in which planning data must be provided, planning authorities can now enforce compliance with government-approved data standards. 

This is a huge step forward. As soon as you have a well-defined correct way to do planning data, you have software that is either compliant or not: “Does it do what we need?” becomes a simple question with a straightforward answer.

Defined and agreed data structures ensure consistency and accuracy and create an environment ripe for the development of specialised software tools which can automate and streamline planning processes, reducing administrative burdens, accelerating project timelines and expediting the planning approval process. This, in turn, derisks construction investment, unlocks funding for developers, makes the market more competitive, gives smaller players the ability to deliver more significant projects, and accelerates housebuilding for the whole country.

Interested to find out more about the role of data standards. We also have a review on that. 

Read more here: The case for data standards in urban planning and community engagement

Enhancing collaboration and communication

Section 86 introduces Planning data regulations which can mandate planning authorities to make specific planning data available to the public under approved open licences. Open data requirements have been around for a while, but this provides further specificity on what local datasets on planning can be expected. 

Open planning data fosters a culture of transparency and collaboration and creates opportunities for software developers to build solutions that facilitate seamless collaboration among stakeholders: imagine interactive mapping tools that visualise planning data in real-time and stakeholder engagement platforms that enable meaningful participation in the planning process.

Effective collaboration and communication are paramount in successful urban development projects. By fostering greater cooperation and communication, these software tools enable professionals to achieve consensus, mitigate conflicts, and deliver projects that truly reflect community needs and aspirations. The key is to get everyone reading from the same hymn sheet. 

At PlaceChangers, we have always focussed on this aspect of public consultation, making planning data available to non-technical stakeholders in engaging and intuitive formats that ultimately drive better feedback and bolster public support. 

LURA links back to an earlier white paper "Planning for the Future". Read more about it here: PlaceChangers responds to UK Government consultation on “Planning for the Future”

Harnessing data-driven insights

Data is the lifeblood of modern urban planning, and the LURA underscores the importance of harnessing data-driven insights to inform decision-making.

Digital planning software with advanced analytics capabilities empowers housebuilders, planning consultants, and architects to unlock valuable insights from planning data, enabling evidence-based decision-making and informed project design. From demographic trends to spatial analysis, these software solutions would allow professionals to gain deeper insights into market dynamics, identify development opportunities, and optimise project outcomes for maximum impact.

I don’t think it would be exaggerating to say that this is the domain in which almost all British proptech works. We have always had to contend with the fractured and heavily siloed data ecosystem in the construction industry, especially in planning. Entire markets exist solely because of the difficulty of finding and cleaning geospatial data for the construction industry. Greater availability and consistency of this data will greatly stimulate the slowly growing market for GIS and business intelligence platforms for land management and planning.

Facilitating compliance and risk management

Section 87 introduces restrictions on using planning data software, empowering the Secretary of State to approve software that meets specified criteria. This may seem anti-competitive, but the opposite is true. This provision ensures the quality and reliability of software used for processing planning data and spurs innovation by incentivising developers to meet more complex planning approval requirements.

The LURA introduces new requirements and standards for planning data processing, creating compliance challenges for industry professionals. By automating compliance processes and providing real-time visibility into regulatory obligations, these software solutions empower professionals to navigate regulatory complexities confidently. 

At PlaceChangers, we are champions of a more transparent, more clean-cut planning system in which builders know, ahead of time, whether they meet the requirements for a planning application. Giving businesses a single correct way to do things de-risks planning and creates incentives for private-sector investment.


The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act presents a transformative opportunity for housebuilders, architects, planning consultants and investors to embrace digital planning software as a catalyst for success in urban development projects. By leveraging software solutions that streamline planning processes, enhance collaboration, harness data-driven insights, facilitate compliance, and foster innovation, professionals can position themselves at the forefront of the industry and drive positive change in the communities they serve.

House building faces so many challenges related to planning. PlaceChangers exists to help businesses meet these challenges head-on, navigating the high-risk planning ecosystem with software solutions that ease the administrative burden, save labour hours and, most importantly, lead to good outcomes for the urban environment. Striving places are made together. We strive to make things easier for the nation’s builders and welcome legislation that makes it easier for us to do so.

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