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Planning consultation citizen engagement tool wins future housing pitch contest

The Future Fox won a start-up pitch contest focused around housing solutions at Connected Places Catapult’s CityX event yesterday in London.


Day one of City Catapult’s CityX event explored the growing housing challenges brought about population growth, urbanisation, an ageing population and finite land resources. Thirteen companies pitched and exhibited their ideas on addressing these issues.


The winning company, The Future Fox, will receive £5,000 worth of services to advance the business.

The Future Fox takes the award at CityX Future of Housing day
The Future Fox takes the award at CityX Future of Housing day

Early engagement at scale


Annette Jezierska, CEO and founder, The Future Fox, said: “People reach a brick wall when they try to engage in the planning system.”


She noted in her pitch that only three per cent of people typically engage at a time when they can have an influence on planning developments.


The Future Fox, a two-year-old company, helps planners engage with communities on housing, transport and infrastructure schemes. It aims to bring citizens into the planning process on a much wider scale and earlier in the process, addressing many of the challenges related to traditional consultation methods such as "shouty town hall meetings" and individual online research which requires chasing down complex and scattered documentation.


"People reach a brick wall when they try to engage in the planning system.”


Using artificial intelligence (AI), the platform solicits citizens’ preferences and feedback, providing information and data to support informed choices. Planners receive data they can use to improve proposals and incorporate local knowledge into their designs. The tool also provides planners with a snapshot of levels of support for scheme types, and flags opportunities and risks to avoid disruption further down the line as setbacks become much more expensive.


The UK government, for example, has a target to build 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s and has stressed that delays and setbacks must be overcome.


Working with local authorities


The Future Fox’s app uses gamification to drive engagement. Jezierska said in one instance, the app’s implementation trebled engagement rates compared to the year before. The Future Fox is working with Lewisham Council, which is using the feedback in “radical” designs to reduce traffic.


The company is also working with local authorities across Scotland to roll out software to enable communities to influence the planning system more broadly regarding the density, style and connectivity requirements of planned developments.


“Uniquely [our technology] is underpinned by local data and technical viability so you get value out of the process,” said Jezierska.


Future housing solutions


The judges were Izhar Ul-Haq, business development manager, STFC Innovations; Paul Taylor, innovation coach, Bromford; and Rafe Bertram, partner, Foster & Partners.


Other businesses which pitched and exhibited solutions were:

  • AccuCities: Creates custom 3D city models
  • BIOHM: Develops bio-based materials for use in ‘circular construction’
  • ELAD Network: Blockchain marketplace platform for real estate transactions
  • FUZZLAB: AI chatbot technology for the social housing sector
  • Gapotape: A product to eradicate air leakage and thermal bridging where rigid boards are fitted between rafters in roofs, walls and floors
  • Kemuri: Smart power sockets which use machine learning to monitor daily routines and raise automated alerts where necessary
  • Landmark: Environmental risk information and solutions for the property industry
  • Safecility: A building compliance “concierge” to simplify legal fulfilment
  • Safe House: A mains-powered LoRA-connected sensor that monitors electricity, temperature and humidity as well as detecting carbon monoxide and smoke
  • Tiascope: Provides transport models for residential site locations in seconds
  • Urban Intelligence: Analyses data to identify land for development
  • UrbanTide: A real-time innovation platform which unlocks data from silos

Today’s CityX event turns its attention to mobility.


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