Insights article

Proptech trends shaping town planning and housing in 2024

Sebastian Weise
Published: 03/01/2024

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Against the backdrop of the upcoming  2024 UK general election, the dynamics of the housing market are poised for a nuanced dance, reflecting potential shifts in political direction.The upcoming year promises a dynamic proptech landscape, where trends in property planning are poised to shape not only the physical spaces we inhabit but also the very processes that conceive and construct them. From the intricate dance of housing market fluctuations to the rise of cutting-edge technologies in town planning, 2024 is a canvas painted with innovation and resilience. 

Join us on this journey as we unravel the key trends that will define the UK's housing and construction sectors in the coming year. 

Wider developments influencing change in 2024

The evolving dynamics of the housing market, coupled with legislative changes such as the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023, propel the sector's innovation. In this second section, we delve into wider developments influencing change in 2024, exploring how proptech trends in town planning are intricately woven into the fabric of these transformative forces.

Shifting trends in the UK housing market in 2024

In 2024, the UK housing market is experiencing a more positive outlook. Rightmove predicts a 1% decrease in average new seller asking prices by the year's end, attributing it to heightened competition among sellers. Zoopla foresees a 2% drop in house prices throughout 2024, with 4 in 5 housing markets registering annual declines. Despite a more stable mortgage market with average rates at 5.48%, affordability challenges persist due to increased rates and stretched incomes. Despite the risk of a major collapse diminishing, housing affordability must improve to boost sales. The market expects a seasonal rebound in spring 2024, but the number of sales may remain lower also as the UK is going into an election year which tends to create a pause in activity according to Zoopla. 

Sustainability takes center stage

In the construction sector, Home Building UK sees a shift towards sustainable building practices. Glenigan forecasts an 8% increase in construction levels in 2024, leading to higher demand for materials. Low-carbon building materials are gaining popularity, aligning with the government's focus on reducing carbon emissions. Timber construction, in particular, is encouraged to meet net-zero targets. Energy bills are expected to fall for most of 2024, providing relief for homeowners. The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act introduces changes to streamline planning applications and empower residents in property redevelopment. Renewable energy sources, including heat pumps and solar panels, are on the rise, aided by government schemes and grants. Hydrogen boilers will undergo trials in 2024 as part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions. New homes will be required to produce 30% less carbon dioxide emissions to meet Building Regulations. 

Levelling Up and Regeneration Act (2023) shaping digital transformation in town planning 

In England and Wales, the long awaited Levelling Up and Regeneration act will drive a trend toward digitisation: The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA) introduces significant digitalisation measures in town planning effective from December 26, 2023. The Act introduces mandatory design codes and seeks to streamline planning application approval. There are now reporting requirements which will drive digitisation.  These include reporting of commencement notices, submission and processing of progress reports, and a focus on data and digitalisation in Environmental Outcome Reports. The changes aim to streamline processes, enhance transparency, and leverage technology for more efficient and effective town planning.

The UK emerges as a global PropTech leader, dominating European funding with over 500 companies in London alone. A report by Unissu noted that London attracts 43% of European proptech investment, excelling in sustainable initiatives for a cleaner, greener, and zero-carbon urban landscape. Private sector commitment and government support further propel UK's proptech innovation with the fourth round of DLUHC’s Property Innovation Fund coming online in 2024. 

Predictions for the new year: Proptech trends shaping town planning in 2024

These trends reflect a dynamic landscape in the UK housing and construction sectors in 2024. As a leader for digital planning tools in the UK, PlaceChangers is are watching key trends with interest and competence. Here are our predictions for trends in property planning. 

Social pressures influencing town planning

Increasing emphasis on social equity in planning processes may influence decision-making. Planners may need to address issues related to housing affordability, accessibility, and inclusivity, ensuring that developments contribute positively to the well-being of diverse communities.

Community consultation evolution

Anticipate consolidation in the community consultation space, driven by the increasing online presence of development projects. Expect new and interactive online engagement formats, including 3D visualisations, with projects funded by the PropTech Innovation Fund leading the way, particularly in the public sector. This trend reflects a broader shift toward immersive digital experiences to enhance community involvement and understanding. Well-funded projects may explore Virtual reality (VR) and similar immersive technologies to allow for a more immersive and inclusive experience for public input on proposed developments.

Analytics and place-based data enhance decision-making

Proptech will witness a surge in analytics and place-based data utilisation. The Proptech Innovation Fund's call for ideas using place-based data to expedite land assessments highlights the industry's growing interest in harnessing data for more informed decision-making. As digitalisation of planning processes intensifies, development companies will increasingly prioritise efficient, user-friendly, and reusable processes, underscoring the sector's commitment to technological advancement.

Impact capture ascendance

Expect a heightened focus on impact capture, with Homes England pioneering a novel approach utilising place-based data for social value and impact assessment. As data and digitalisation become more prevalent, this domain will become more accessible, reducing manual work and facilitating a more comprehensive understanding of the broader societal implications of development projects.

AI Integration in property planning

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to expand across various facets of property planning. Building on the strides made in 2023, AI will play a pivotal role in accelerating consultation summaries and reducing manual work, as seen at PlaceChangers. The potential applications of AI in town planning range from expedited document summarisation to creative ideation and enhanced visualisations in community consultations. 

'Zero bills housing' and energy efficiency promotion

The momentum towards marketing zero bills houses and promoting energy efficiency in new builds will persist, driven in part by the Future Homes Standard. The government's updates to Parts F and L of the Building Regulations in 2021 set new standards for ventilation, energy efficiency, airtightness, and insulation. This emphasis on sustainability will extend to existing properties, with a continued push for retrofitting through initiatives like the Social Housing Decarbonisation Funding (SHDF) scheme.

Climate change considerations will likely become more prominent in town planning processes. Planners may focus on resilience strategies to mitigate the impact of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and other climate-related challenges, ensuring that urban developments are sustainable and adaptive.

BIM adoption gradual progress

While Building Information Modeling (BIM) adoption in housing will progress, the pace will remain gradual. Major developers will continue using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) for housing designs, but smaller and more innovative developers will spearhead the shift towards BIM. This transition reflects the industry's inclination towards more advanced and collaborative approaches in design and construction processes.

Collaborative planning platforms

The development and utilisation of collaborative planning platforms may rise, facilitating better communication and coordination among various stakeholders involved in a project. These platforms can enhance transparency, reduce delays, and foster collaboration in the planning and development stages. 

An exciting outlook for 2024

2023 has been a challenging year for the construction sector setting the context for Proptech trends shaping town planning in 2024. As we navigate the landscape of 2024, the UK housing market grapples with evolving dynamics, embracing sustainability and digital innovation. The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act propels digitalisation in town planning, while the UK cements its position as a global PropTech leader. 

The stage is set for developers, councils and their planning and design partners to shape the future and be at the forefront of change. From immersive community consultations to harnessing the power of analytics, there is an active role for design and planning firms to foster transparency, collaboration, and innovation. Developers can seize the opportunity to champion sustainable building practices, aligning with the government's emphasis on reducing carbon emissions. Embracing low-carbon materials, exploring renewable energy sources, and prioritising zero-bills housing are not mere trends; they are avenues for developers to contribute to a greener, more efficient housing landscape. 

In this transformative journey, PlaceChangers' digital planning platform emerges as a beacon, offering an immersive and efficient experience in shaping the future of our communities. Explore the possibilities, embrace the trends, and be part of the evolution in UK housing and construction.

We invite you, our readers, to share your perspectives, experiences, and questions regarding the evolving proptech and town planning landscape. What trends do you foresee having the most significant impact on you? Let us know your views

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