Coding design processes: A common procedural language for supporting design quality in planning

Michael Crilly, Alexander Wilson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


One of the key challenges of the digitisation of the planning system; as suggested up-front by the RTPI in the Digital Planning Manifesto (RTPI, 2019); is the use of a common language for underlying data. This pre-requisite for effective digital transformation is about the fundamental need for clarity, consistency, certainty, and confidence that arise from the correct decision-making processes. This ‘digital common language’ relates to information requirements (scope, content, level of detail, format) for each stage of engagement with the statutory planning system.

In response, this paper presents a case study in the development of collaborative design and planning processes seeking to develop a common procedural language. Using action-research and a Delphi method research strategy based on work developing a strategic design guide for York and North Yorkshire, it sets out a co-design project with key stakeholders operating in the different sectors and at different scales within the two-tier local authority structure. Arising from stakeholder requirement specifications, it introduces and trials an accompanying procedural planning tool suitable for use by multiple stakeholders. The resulting guidance and evaluation tool provides a progression of supporting information requirements aimed at improving decision-making at (1) pre-application discussions, (2) the validation of applications with supporting information, (3) effective design-review and outline recommendations, (4) determination of reserve matters and planning conditions, and (5) post-competition monitoring.

It builds the strategic justification and business case for the development of a rule-based planning ‘rubric’ setting out the benefits of speed and semi-automated assessments at the progressive stages of engagement with the planning system. It demonstrates wider potential benefits as a form of procedural evaluation for representatives of each sector and stakeholder involved.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2022
EventUK-Ireland Planning Research Conference 2022: Planning in, and for, a Digital World - Manchester University, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Sept 20227 Sept 2022


ConferenceUK-Ireland Planning Research Conference 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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