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Virtual planning guide dropped

A £14,000 virtual guide to planning rules has been scrapped after a lack of interest from the public, it emerged today.

A version of the Government planning portal’s “interactive house” tool - which gives users information about domestic planning permission – was set up on the virtual 3D world Second Life in 2008.

It was a move intended to “engage a younger audience in planning matters”, communities and local government minister Bob Neill said, but failed to meet its objective.

“Although customer feedback was positive, take-up was insufficient to warrant its continuation and the project was cancelled earlier this year,” Mr Neill said in a written Commons answer to Tory Andrew Griffiths (Burton).

“The total cost to the planning portal was £14,000.”

Outside the Commons, Mr Neill said: “This was another pointless gimmick dreamt up by Labour ministers that wasted taxpayers’ money and nobody wanted.

“What people really want is real power over planning decisions which is what they will get through our localism bill.”

Mr Griffiths added: “I’m not sure about a virtual world, I think Labour ministers were living on a different planet when they authorised this expenditure.

“It is a prime example of pointless nonsense that Gordon Brown’s government were wasting taxpayers’ money on, and scrapping it is essential if we are going to tackle Labour’s legacy of debt.”

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