We’ve decided to enter The Planning Awards 2021 in the ‘Award for use of digital technology in Planning’ category. Our entry is based on the Call for Sites consultation and subsequent site assessment work Bedford Borough Council undertook using OpusMap in 2020. Read the Bedford case study here.

Our entry partner is JDi Solutions, the developers of OpusConsult. We’ve worked with JDi Solutions for many years and collaborated more recently in the co-development and deployment of our Call for Sites and site assessment offer to Local Authority Planning Departments who operate OpusConsult and OpusMap as an integrated system in support of the Local Plan process.

In 2020 JDi Solutions launched a significant upgrade to OpusConsult with OC2. Its new custom forms module has been put through its paces by a number of Councils running Call for Sites consultations in recent months. Our development teams collaborated on a number of improvements in the way OC2 integrates with interactive mapping created in OpusMap and with new online tools we’ve developed such as the browser drawing tool with base map snapping. The new drawing tool is an ideal solution for online Call for Sites as it allows both developers and planners to either draw accurate and detailed site plans over interactive mapping in their web browser or simply drag and drop a pre-existing GIS file of the site from their computer directly onto the interactive map. It means both the online site form and the accompanying site map can all be submitted as searchable and editable data.

Here’s the video we made as part of our entry. It takes you through many of the new features we’ve introduced in OpusMap and OC2 and gives you a glimpse of where we’re taking our customers with more exciting developments in our software:

Since the video was made in February 2021 we’ve completed further improvements to the way planners can use interactive mapping and submitted sites data in support of their internal site assessment process. OC2’s custom forms module allows planners to add their site assessment proforma to the original Call for Sites submission form so both that data and the emerging evidence base data for site assessments are in one place.

Planners can now generate both internal (administration) and external (public) interactive maps and update them in real time as each site submission is assessed and/or approved by them in OC2. By using interactive mapping – rather than paper, PDF or static maps – planners can spatially search and access ALL data associated with the original site form submission and with their own site assessment from within the same system. It provides both significant time-savings and increased efficiencies, particularly when working remotely as most planners are right now. What’s more, once the site assessment process is complete all approved site data, including interactive mapping, are ready in the system for publication as part of the next stage of consultation.

The Local Plan making process, the role of online consultations and of interactive mapping have all been brought into sharp focus with the Government’s Planning For The Future White Paper. Our Call for Sites software developments are a timely snapshot of how we are constantly improving and customising OpusMap to help planners to navigate and overcome the digital and legislative challenges ahead.