RSN asks for rural pilots... Government delivers

Last week we reported on the Government’s announcement of 10 council to test the use of digital tools in the planning process.

 The announcement included

  • £1.1 million grant fund to implement a ‘pathfinder’ programme across 10 councils to test the use of digital tools in the planning process.
  • New system to use digital tools so planning proposals are more accessible and interactive.
  • Part of Planning for the future reforms to harness the latest technology through online maps and data.

The Rural Services Network responded to the Planning For the Future White Paper late last year to highlight the importance of considering rural areas in designing new processes and ways of working.  We specifically called for:

“Any piloting of new solutions for plan-making and making community engagement more accessible and engaging should include at least one remote rural local authority area.”

It is welcome news that several of the 10 pilot areas to test the use of digital tools and data standards include rural areas with several member authorities of the Rural Services Network including East Suffolk, Stratford Upon Avon District Council, South Hams District Council, West Devon Borough Council, Ashford Borough Council and Gateshead featuring as part of the trials.

It is important that plans for moving forward with the digitalisation of service provision considers the impact in rural areas where 7% of rural premises (or 274,000 households and businesses) cannot access a decent broadband connection of 10Mbps.  In addition 16% of rural premises cannot access a superfast broadband connection of 30Bbps and it is not possible to get an indoor 4G connection on all four networks at 54% of rural premises.

The RSN campaigns for rural digital connectivity as part of its Revitalising Rural campaign and it is vital that rural areas are not left behind.  You can read more about our asks of Government in relation to Digital Connectivity at this link.


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