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Award nomination for councils’ planning websites

A dynamic new digital approach to planning has been recognised with an award nomination.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have been shortlisted for the Digital Impact category in the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) awards for their work creating a digital-first approach to planning policy documents.

The councils wanted to move away from traditional planning approach and create something engaging, easy-to-use and user-friendly.

For their Joint Design Guide, the usual pages-long document was ditched in favour of a new website, which people found easy to use and a great resource.

The same digital first approach was adopted for the Joint Local Plan consultation.

Rather than a long, text-heavy consultation document, an interactive website was created that allowed users to view maps and infographics, with survey questions embedded in the site so people could answer as they read through the different elements of the Plan.

The website was well-received by the public and was recognised by the government as a great example of a digital-first approach to planning.

Councillor Anne-Marie Simpson, South Oxfordshire District Council Cabinet Member for Planning, said: “This is great recognition of the hard work of our planning and communications team and well-deserved.”

Councillor Debby Hallett, Vale of White Horse District Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Transformation, added: “This nomination is an added bonus after the great feedback we got and the knowledge that we’ve improved a service for our communities.”

LGC editor Sarah Calkin said: “The LGC awards seeks to recognise and celebrate the absolute best in local government, and as this year’s shortlist shows there is no shortage of new ideas and fresh thinking across the whole host of council services.

“I want to say a huge thank you to our judging panels of senior council officers who have sifted through more than 700 entries. But most of all, massive congratulations to everyone on the shortlist, making it this far is a huge achievement in itself.”

The award ceremony is on Thursday 8 June when the councils will discover if they have won.