As critical as securing planning permits is, it is often a cumbersome and time-consuming process. For a long time, it has been a manual process, resulting in lengthy wait times, leaving developers uncertain about the accuracy of their submissions. Online compliance check tools are changing this, offering a faster, more efficient path to permit approvals that benefit both developers and planning departments.

Current Challenges in Planning Permit Approvals

Obtaining a planning permit traditionally requires a thorough understanding of local rules and detailed applications. These must then be scrutinized by planning authorities, who check to ensure they meet all local requirements. If you misread a regulation—or forget to include any documentation—it can be weeks before you learn that your application failed. If your application fails for something that can be corrected, you have to fix it, resubmit, and wait.

For developers who have already purchased land, holding costs and the risk of rising labor and material expenses become major concerns during these approval delays. And while some states and counties are taking steps to speed up the process, these don’t always apply to new developments.

Overview of Online Compliance Check Tools

Online planning and design compliance check tools are newer solutions designed to streamline the permit approval process. These tools use advanced algorithms and data integration to assess compliance with local planning regulations quickly and accurately. These tools range from comprehensive platforms managing the entire application process to specialized tools focusing on specific compliance aspects, such as environmental impact or zoning laws.

How These Tools Work

Typically, the process begins with developers uploading their plans to the online tool. The tool then cross-references the plans against a database of local regulations and compliance criteria. Advanced algorithms analyze the data, flagging potential issues or non-compliance areas. Developers receive detailed reports outlining necessary adjustments, which they can make before resubmitting.

These tools often integrate seamlessly with existing systems used by planning authorities, ensuring a smooth flow of information. Real-world examples highlight the effectiveness of these tools. Speaking about Archistar’s digital compliance solution, the State Government of Victoria said:

“The tool provides feedback on more than 90 complex checks in around 90 seconds. This means house designers can rapidly make changes before sending their plans to a building surveyor for final assessment, cutting up to four weeks off the approval process.”

And the Executive Director Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility of the City of Burlington commented:

“AI-supported development review has the potential to free up capacity for our technical experts to focus on the processing of other more nuanced and complex development applications that are increasingly coming forward as the City evolves away from greenfield development.”

Cities that have adopted these technologies have seen a 90% reduction in average permit approval times, benefiting both developers and the broader community.

Benefits of Using Online Tools for Planning Permits

The primary advantage of these online tools is the substantial reduction in approval times. By automating many of the manual checks that traditionally slow down the process, these tools enable quicker decision-making. Developers can submit their plans and receive feedback in a fraction of the time compared to conventional methods. And by automatically assessing plans against vast datasets and regulatory frameworks, planning departments can reduce the likelihood of errors while still ensuring that submitted plans meet all necessary guidelines.

Faster approvals can also mean shorter project timelines and lower holding costs. By reducing the need for multiple consultations and manual interventions, developers can allocate their resources more effectively.

Challenges and Considerations

While the benefits are clear, adopting online planning tools come with some considerations. Not all jurisdictions have fully embraced this digital shift, and there might be a learning curve for both developers and officials. It’s also crucial for planning departments to choose reputable platforms with robust security measures to protect sensitive project information.

As these technologies continue to advance and gain acceptance, they promise to reshape the landscape of urban development, leading to more efficient, innovative, and sustainable cities. Embracing these tools today could very well define the future success of development projects. Your local planning department should request a demo of eCheck by Archistar to discover how it can streamline the permit application process.