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VU.CITY and planning applications

VU.CITY is often used for reviewing planning applications due to its ability to rapidly generate accurate views of proposals in context. As a result, planning officers may ask you to provide 3D models in support of your application.

VU.CITY users have the ability to extrude a massing model based on the details outlined in your application. However, it may be more beneficial for your application that you provide an accurate model of your own to portray your scheme in its best light.

File requirements

VU.CITY supports models in the FBX format (2011-2016).

FBX as a file format is generally associated with high-end rendering and gaming, but not necessarily with CAD or BIM platforms. So while many modelling applications work well with FBX, many CAD and BIM platforms were never built with FBX in mind, so may need additional steps in your workflow to produce a model suitable for VU.CITY. Any considerations or workarounds we learn of that help produce suitable FBX files will be posted here.

If your modelling/CAD/BIM package is only able to export newer, unsupported versions of FBX, Autodesk provide an FBX converter here.


Your FBX file can contain a high level of geometric detail, however it may need some optimisation to keep it within the 128MB file size limit. You can for example include materials, but it is good practice to not include internal geometry as this adds to the file size but won’t be visible when imported.

Also, the way your geometry is grouped may need to be adjusted. For example, if you save 100 files totaling 1GB to your computer, this will take longer and be more computationally demanding than saving a single 1GB file. If you apply this computing principle to a high-detailed model which is typically made up of thousands of objects / layers, you’ll find your model won’t render smoothly, and may not load at all on less-powerful hardware.

For best performance when rendering your model in VU.CITY’s interactive 3D physics environment, the model should have all geometry joined/merged/collapsed into a single object.


It will be assumed that your model has been geolocated, meaning when it is imported into VU.CITY it will automatically appear at the intended site.

For the UK, geolocation should conform to the British National Grid (GBOS). For Ireland, geolocation should conform to Irish Grid (ITM).

Different modelling/CAD/BIM packages handle geolocation differently, and CAD/BIM packages in particular often cannot translate their geolocation settings into an FBX file (even though they can to other file formats). If you’re unable to get your modelling/CAD/BIM package to successfully geolocate the FBX version of your model, please instead zero it, or ask us to zero it for you. Your planning officer can then easily enter your coordinates directly into VU.CITY to position the model.


Some modelling/CAD/BIM packages allow you to set a “Project North” that is different to True North. These directional offsets are readable in a limited number of apps only, so VU.CITY will instead use the True North of your model.

This means you should use True North, and manually rotate your model in the orientation you wish it to sit in the real world.


When sending a model to your planning officer, please include the following information:

– Which modelling application you used;
– The scale you have built the model in (VU.CITY supports mm, cm, m, in, and ft);
– Your geolocation coordinates and AOD.