3D CAD Software For Local Authorities

Nancy B. Alston

The next Parliamentary session will include no fewer than three separate Bills involving major changes or initiatives involving planning-related legislation. The Government’s draft legislative program for the Parliamentary session 2008/09, just published includes proposals to make Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) planning authorities, reform the existing heritage protection system and establish a new marine planning regime.

As part of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), April 2008 signals the beginning of the legal requirement to have in your possession an Energy Performance Certificate for commercial buildings (classed as non-dwellings) that you construct, lease or sell.

With the now undeniable decline of the housing market, there will be plenty of people deciding to extend their homes rather than dip their toes in an unstable housing market.

The consequences of all of the above will be a greater demand on the planning departments of Local Authorities and this will necessitate an industry standard, affordable and easy to learn and use CAD system at the center of the planning department.

It is important that the CAD system chosen is able to read all the main file formats and as many extra ones as possible, as plans submitted via the Planning Portal will come in many different formats. Also, existing records may be stored in little used file formats. As long as the CAD package is versatile in its support of a variety of file formats, then swapping files with other companies, authorities, agents or architects will not throw up any problems. The system chosen must read and be able to save in all DWG formats, both new and old as well as DXF.

With the increase use of Google Sketch Up, a free download, it also makes sense to be able to open and edit these files.

Being able to save as PDF will allow anyone to send designs to those without their own CAD package and being able to bring in PDF, rescale and read off measurements from those submitted would be an extremely useful tool, saving time on both sides of the planning application process.

The application needed to fulfill these requirements does not want to be ‘top heavy’, needing long periods of expensive training or contain lots of top end features that are not needed and which simply make the job in hand more complicated than it needs be. This will slow down processing projects adding extra expense, but giving no benefit.

Finally, consideration must be taken of the licensing costs. Top end CAD systems not only involve an initial payment, but also annual payments to guarantee support, these can cost thousands of pounds a year and while often not necessary will mean that if not paid, support will not be available leaving you high and dry just when you need help.

TurboCAD is the biggest selling CAD system in retail in the world.

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