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08 June 2004

Mott MacDonald completes study into CAD file formats to facilitate information sharing for local planning authorities

Mott MacDonald has completed a review of CAD (Computer Aided Design) file formats and viewing software. The aim of the review, commissioned by The Planning Portal – part of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister – is to facilitate communication and information sharing between commercial organisations and public bodies.

In the UK, more and more Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) are developing their businesses to cope with full electronic planning submissions. The Planning Portal was set up to enable users to make online planning applications with electronic attachments including scheme drawings. However, accurately reading and correctly interpreting submitted CAD files was found to be problematic.

In order to communicate CAD information to LPAs via the Planning Portal successfully, the Mott MacDonald review found that plot file formats (including DWF, HPGL/2, PDF and TIFF) were the most suitable for applications. By submitting drawings in a plot file format, the applicant can have greater assurance that electronic drawings will be correctly interpreted. As part of the review process, vendors of CAD file viewing software were given the opportunity to provide comments and feedback on the review report.

Following its review, Mott MacDonald produced a second report which provides LPAs and planning professionals with guidelines and best practice advice for producing plot file formats from CAD drawings. This report also highlights formatting methods to ensure drawing integrity and accurate reproduction, as well as faster processing and reviewing times. It is intended that the Mott MacDonald reports will complement any existing standards for producing and delivering electronic drawing files and will promote good practice within CAD communities.

To access the reports, visit www.planningportal.gov.uk and select ‘CAD guidance’ under Local Authorities/ICT suppliers.

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