Digital 3D modelling

3D modelling of Hemel Hempstead town centre

We use VU.CITY digital 3D platform as a key part of our planning process for assessing design of applications. This is considered an integral step in delivering good growth and a high quality of design in development across the borough.

Assessing proposals with 3D visualisations allows us to better understand the impact of new development in the local context to provide accurate feedback to applicants on the massing, scale and design of major applications and understand the impact on views and environmental constraints.

We've modelled Hemel Hempstead in 3D to inform transparent conversations with applicant teams regarding the impact of a development and to help us optimise the decision-making process. The views of the model and the level of detail for submission should be determined through pre-application discussions and will depend on the scale of the development, and whether the site is in a sensitive location, for example a conservation area or prominent public location in the town centre.

Applicant requirements for 3D submission

We require all applicants to submit digital models of proposed major developments as part of any pre-application discussions. Digital 3D modelling will be required for major developments and any application considered to have a significant impact on the townscape. Requirement for 3D submission should be discussed with officers during pre-application discussion.

Please note: at present the requirement for 3D VU.CITY submission relates to Hemel Hempstead only. However, we may request 3D views of a development to be commissioned independently in other major development applications in the borough.

The requirements for applications which we will require a 3D submission as part of the application are set out below:

3D digital model submission is required for all major developments:

  • Category A: Significant Major Developments - 3D submission required for all in this category 
  • Category B: Very Large Major Developments - 3D submission required for all in this category
  • Category C: Major Developments - 3D submission is required for any development of four storeys and above. We recommend discussing with your case officer if a 3D model is recommended for a Category C major developments.

A 3D digital model submission is not required for these development categories:

  • Category D: Minor Developments 
  • Category E: Minor Housing / Commercial Developments
  • Category F: Householder Applications 

There is the opportunity to upload other 3D digital models into our Hemel Planning model. This may have merit for the above categories if the development is in a particularly sensitive area, such as a conservation area or involves alterations to a listed building. We would recommended discussing with your case officer and/or conservation and design on the best approach with regards to 3D submission on your application. 

Model area

At present, our model covers the area of Hemel Hempstead and surrounding countryside only. Other locations across the borough will be reviewed in due course.

We currently have the majority of Hemel Hempstead, Two Waters and Maylands modelled in 3D. The complete modelling of the Hemel Hempstead area is expected towards the end of 2022.

Submitting a model?

How to prepare a file for import 

VU.CITY is a townscape tool for assessing design and impact of scale. It is not capable of handling large detailed BIM models and requires a simple massing detail model for import without internal or full structural / service information.

The model must be submitted as below:

  • Be geolocated in OS space in metres (m) units
  • Have a low polycount (recommended less than 65,000 vertices) 
  • Be below 128MB
  • Be saved / exported in FBX file format 
  • Named with your application reference number and any revisions clearly labelled
  • Submitted with the downloadable form (see below) filled out.

Please send your .fbx models - or import and share your model into VU.CITY - to your planning officer along with your completed  3D model import submission form (PDF 313KB). If you have any issues with the Dacorum model, or questions on the process, please email

Further guidance

For more detailed guidance on geo-locating and preparing a model for import, please see the VU.CITY website links below:

If you have any issues regarding import or using the model, please call the VU.CITY technical support team on 0808 168 3931 or email


You may wish to consider taking out a licence with VU.CITY as part of the design and pre-application process to test your own schemes in the 3D context.

Applicants can be granted temporary access via VU.CITY to import, view and share the model link themselves. Find out more about a trial on the VU.CITY website.

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