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  • Future Insight

Automatically check if a spatial plan complies with the overarching plans

Updated: Mar 14

Can you automatically check whether a spatial plan complies with the overarching plans?

For the Estonian Ministry of Climate we researched the possibilities and are developing a prototype solution.

What did we examine:

Automatically checking a BIM model for compliance with local permit requirements: we could already do that. By performing automated checks on BIM models for components of the building code, such as the presence of sufficient emergency doors, proper escape routes and accessibility, we proved earlier in a pilot for the Estonian ministry that we could speed up the permitting process. But how can you take that into account with the overarching spatial plans?

In the complex field of spatial planning, we have conducted extensive research on the Estonian planning process. Here the emphasis was on checking whether the detailed plan corresponds to the master plan. What is new here is that the Estonian detailed plan is represented not in 2D, but in 3D.


To illustrate:

In Estonia, the spatial environment works with a master plan and a detailed plan.

Master plan

The master plan establishes the general guidelines. Among other things, it shows where building is allowed, what the maximum building height is, what percentage of the area should be green and where a road is planned.

Detailed plan

Below the master plan is the detailed plan which goes into more detail on specific details of the master plan. Here, the exact locations for construction are indicated, the prescribed height is specified, and space is allocated for infrastructure and greenery.

In accordance

If the master plan indicates that a detailed plan is required, it is important that, for example, the maximum building height of the master plan and the detailed plan are in agreement. If they are not, the detailed plan cannot be approved.


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How did we approach this:

To get a complete picture of current practices, capabilities and data, we started with thorough research. This includes not only thoroughly researching various sources, but also conducting interviews with experts active in the field.

Desk research: 

  • Analysis current planning system and available data formats We started our analysis with a thorough exploration of the existing Estonian planning system. We examined various data formats currently used in the planning process, as well as other potential formats that may be relevant to spatial planning. In doing so, we also consulted previously conducted studies in this area.

  • Comparison international planning process we have compared the planning process of several other countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Austria, and Singapore. Specifically, we have focused on developments in the field of digitization in construction, the use of BIM in permitting for spatial planning

  • Research and standardization in Europe We have been researching studies conducted within European projects such as CHEK and Accord and looking at how we can tie in with open standards, IFC, CityGML and LADM.

Interviews: During the study, we conducted interviews with practitioners. Stakeholders involved in the Estonian planning process from municipalities, planning agencies, architectural firms and the ministry. We questioned them about their experiences with the planning process, identified bottlenecks they observed, and gathered insights regarding possible improvements.

What are the results?

After thorough research, we have developed a promising prototype proposal. This prototype, based on open standards such as CityGML and IFC, will perform checks to verify that the Estonian detailed plan meets the requirements set forth in the master plan. Currently, we are in the development phase and aim to complete the prototype in May/June.

What makes our solution special?

We emphasize open standards and interoperability. Our approach is flexible and adapts to the dynamics of spatial planning. We remain committed to innovative digital transformation and look forward to further collaborations and feedback to take spatial planning in Estonia to the next level.

Want to know more?

Want to learn more about the purpose of this study or see the research report? Then go to

Want to discover what opportunities Clearly.BIM has for you?

Then contact our chief evangelist Jaan Saar.


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