Project has transferred over 4 million documents in one year

Dorset Council’s Planning Convergence and transformation project has reached an incredible milestone. It has completed the transfer of over four million documents in just over a year.

When the council formed in April 2019 there were six different planning teams from the former district, borough and county councils. There were separate software systems for each area. Each team had 47 years’ worth of information including planning applications, building control applications, land charge applications and tree preservations orders.

A ‘discovery’ stage followed. Agents, solicitors, town and parish councils, construction companies, residents and developers were all asked what they thought of the existing systems, what worked, what didn’t and what a good planning system would look like.

The team was restructured, and work started on the convergence part of the project. A key part was to bring all the information held onto one system. Transferring systems with the volume of information that these had was a massive undertaking. This was managed by a dedicated multi-disciplinary team. This team made sure the data was transferred correctly and that the minimum of disruption happened when the planning website was taken offline for the transfer itself.

Since October 2020 all 47 years’ worth of planning information from the former district and borough councils have been transferred to a new system. The accumulated time where the website could not be accessed is a total of 14 working days.

Cllr David Walsh, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for planning said:

“This has been a massive piece of work. We are starting to see efficiencies with employees being able to process applications in areas where there is most need, rather than being restricted to a particular part of the county.

“For myself it is much easier to access all planning applications through one place on our website. A big well done to the team.”

Once the final convergence phase is completed next month, the council’s attention will turn to transformation. Using the information, that was gathered during the initial discovery stage and working with people who use the service the council will develop a modern planning system streamlining processes and making it easier for customers to use.

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