Local Authority Bulletins
Local Authority Bulletin - December 2021
Are you struggling with a backlog as planning application numbers remain high?
With application submission rates reaching record highs throughout late 2020 and into 2021, we know it has been difficult for many Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to manage caseloads and deal with the influx of applications, queries and appeals. Through our workshops and meetings, many are still reporting huge backlogs despite these submission trends starting to return to a more normal pattern.
To solve these issues, increasing numbers of LPAs are utilising the Planning Application Services provided by our parent company, TerraQuest, to help clear backlogs and manage peaks.
- Planning Application Validity Service (PAVS)
This service helps LPAs to successfully handle their increased workloads, to clear application backlogs and meet service level commitments by validating all types of electronic and paper planning applications.
- Planning Application Case Evaluation Service (PACES)
This service provides planning officers who will be on hand to assist with the evaluation and determination of any planning applications, from validation all the way through to the decision with the council’s committee. All the officers are skilled in communicating and negotiating with applicants and agents and help with the smooth running of every case.
You can find out more about these services on TerraQuest’s website here1.
Both services are simple and easy to set up. All that would be required from you is:
- Access for the teams to your back-office systems, or for you to securely transfer applications through to our systems.
- Arrange a meeting between the two organisations to understand your local planning application requirements and any other factors bespoke to your LPA.
- Reach an agreement over which application types will be processed under this agreement.
Understanding the financial pressures that LPAs are experiencing, these services are priced on a cost per application basis that is dependent on length of contract and number of applications, helping to manage any budgetary concerns. PAVS applications are typically turned around within 48 hours and the PACES team aim to return all decisions within the statutory 8-week period, although previous contracts have delivered responses within 7 weeks on average. The exact timeframes are naturally dependent on the complexity and mix of cases.
“We have been working with TerraQuest since August 2020, and we currently have two TerraQuest planners working with our Development Management team. We are pleased with both the quality and quantity of reports provided, and where issues have arisen, these have been resolved through regular communication with the TerraQuest project manager. Once the initial IT set-up was completed, TerraQuest staff were able to help us start to reduce our large backlog of planning applications and we are seeking to expand this in the new year."
Anna Lee, Service Manager for Development Management and Enforcement, Dorset Council
“Arun District Council uses the TerraQuest PAVS to validate Householder and Advertisement Consents. We treat the service as an extension to our own validation team and it provides us with greater resilience especially during busy periods.
The staff are very approachable, and we have been pleased with the service that has been provided to date.”
Nicola Spencer, Arun District Council
Planning Portal’s data shows that January to June are the months which see the most application submissions. If you feel these services could be of use to you, please contact Jonathan Fincher, Business Development Manager at Jonathan.Fincher@terraquest.co.uk2, or on 07545 937798.
Helping Local Authorities to digitise planning, building and local land charges
Our parent company, TerraQuest Solutions, have been working with planning, land charges and building control teams on transformation and modernisation programmes for over 25 years. They prepare and digitise records into existing systems, and also migrate records, data and applications into new systems to enable digital working. We believe these services could be of use to you.
TerraQuest’s service brochure can be accessed here3.
Recent events have forced Local Authorities to consider having access to digital records and data for normal operations to continue in unforeseen events. TerraQuest have seen a huge increase in the need to access data remotely with more and more staff working from home and there is now a huge effort in Government to get all Local Authorities converted to easily accessible, up-to-date digital data.
Experience and expertise
TerraQuest is a leading digital data organisation in the UK with strong expertise in delivering document management and data capture services – including data cleansing, migrating and transformation; scanning, indexing, digitisation, storage, disposal and retrieval services to public sector and private clients to exacting standards.
TerraQuest is uniquely placed to understand what the requirements, pressures and complexities are when working with other departments of Government in preparing and capturing data for the purposes of transformation.
One of the leading projects they have been involved in recently is helping Local Authorities move land charges data from paper and hybrid formats (a mixture of paper and electronic data) to the Land Registry LLC Register by creating digital data and then transforming it.
You are invited to join our webinar
19 January 2022 at 11am we will be hosting a webinar to provide you with further insight and understanding and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. We will be hosting the webinar on the new Planning Portal Community Hub. Simply log in or register here4 and add the webinar (found under the Webinar tab at the top of the page) to your schedule. We will send out a reminder access link in due course.
Our new application service - access your Local Authority account to retrieve applications
On 2 December 2021 we emailed all existing Planning Portal registered account users in England who have accessed the Planning Portal within the last four years. We sent a similar email on 14 December to all those that use Planning Applications Wales.
The information contained in the communication is available here5. (England)
This targeted those who submit applications to advise them of any action they need to take to keep their account and applications when we switch to the new application service. It also advised them how to retain records of any applications over two years old.
As a Local Planning Authority (LPA) you would have been sent this email too, as each authority has a Planning Portal account to access and download applications. This has always been available, should your 1APP back-office integration connector not retrieve an application, or if you manually access applications – for example, to retrieve prior approval applications for larger home extensions if not on the latest version of our 1APP Data Standard.
Do I need to take any action to retain my LPA account?
You do not need to take any action as an LPA to retain your account. The account you use to access Planning Portal applications will be migrated across to the re-platformed service.
Once we introduce the new service, which is planned for early next year, you will be asked to reset your password to gain access to your LPA account. This will be simple and easy process using the existing LPA email address you currently login with.
This is required as part of the account migration process and will ensure that you can access your LPA account.
Detailed instructions on this process will be provided early in January so that you do not encounter any issues. However, our Support Team will be available if needed.
Will there be any changes to applications within our account?
We will carry across all existing Local Authority account settings to the new service, including any planning application requirement configurations you have made. Therefore, you will not need to make any changes.
However, to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations 2018 (GDPR), we will only migrate applications with documents that have been submitted in the last two years into your account.
This will help to clean up your account of historic applications that have been processed and determined. Going forward, there will be a new archive feature, allowing you to archive applications by bulk or on an individual basis. This will help you to manage application lists.
Please note: applications that you have processed within the past two years will continue to be available to you. Those downloaded via your 1APP back-office systems or manually downloaded will be held in the ‘Transferred’ tab within your account. Any recently submitted applications that have yet to be processed will remain available in the ‘Submitted’ tab within in your account.
If you missed our LPA workshop events in October and November this year and would like an overview of the new LPA account to access applications and update your information on the Planning Portal, please watch the webinar6 that details this.