As an applicant, imagine a planning application process that is both time-friendly and transparent. A data-driven service with a single point of access. No need to trawl through multiple websites and PDFs, no need for confusion. Imagine a standardised structure that automatically tells you what you need without masses of superfluous documentation. Imagine a service that does the hard work for you, taking away the need for expertise. 
As a council, imagine a planning application process without pain points. Instead of staring at a mountain of invalid, amended or rejected applications, you’re staring at a molehill. You have the time to focus on non-statutory services which have fee-earning potential. You’re being recognised for compliments, not complaints and you feel proud of your high-quality outcomes. 
Plan✕, a platform created by Open Systems Lab, a non-profit research and development lab, was made with simplicity in mind. The planning system is notoriously complex, which is why 50% of planning applications are invalid. Even a small mistake can cause huge delays. The pain points are numerous and there exists a stressful ‘failure demand’. 
Applicants are left frustrated by a time-consuming, costly service, while local authorities are faced with an overwhelming burden of invalidations, appeals, refusals, and complaints. Most worryingly are the affects that this can have on the wellbeing of planners. 
Open Systems Lab realised that this was wrong. They said – Can we ask for information differently? Instead of asking for documents, Plan✕ asks for data. Data, unlike documentation, has a predefined structure that can be read by machines, allowing for faster responses and increased transparency. 
For the applicant, Plan✕ instantly analyses whether or not they need planning permission, before generating a report which can be shared with planning officers. This clarity leads to reduced failure demand and fewer barriers to development, meaning happier planners and thriving local economies. 
Winner of ‘Best use of technology in Planning’ at the 2019 Planning Awards, Plan✕ was lauded for its, "huge potential to make planning easier, cheaper and more transparent for citizens and businesses, and to liberate planning authorities from the burdens of the paper-based system.” 
Open Systems Lab deserve praise for their meticulous combing of the evidence and data-driven approach to planning. 
A product in its beta phase, Plan✕ has a bright future.  
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