Members of the public will be able to use “innovative new technology” to have a greater say in shaping and regenerating their communities, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has said.

Over £3.25m from the Proptech Engagement Fund will be spent on 28 projects across England trailing cutting edge digital tools to make the planning system more open, engaging and accessible.

The projects include using 3D interactive maps and virtual reality to help local people better envisage proposed new developments in their communities and encourage them get more involved in planning locally.

According to the government, modernising the planning system and using digital technology will help increase community participation in local decision making, including underrepresented groups such as renters and those from black and ethnic minority groups.

Minister for Housing Stuart Andrew said: “We need a modernised planning system which fully embraces digital technology to create places in which people take real pride.

“By bringing the planning system up to date with the latest methods, we are ensuring that communities can have more of a say on the development of their town, city or neighbourhood.”

The selected projects include:

  • Watford Borough Council will develop a digital platform to help residents have their say on how to spend contributions from developers towards infrastructure in their community
  • Walsall Council will use funding to encourage underrepresented community voices to have their say on the regeneration of Bloxwich and Walsall Town Centre, which are supported by the Towns Fund
  • Plymouth Council, alongside South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council, will produce a set of interactive maps for residents to identify what infrastructure is needed in their local area

The pilots, which will run until September 2022, will inform the government’s work to modernise the planning system and DLUHC is working closely with planning authorities across the country to establish best practice and identify where further digital guidance and innovations are needed.