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Architect Bulletin - February 2018

Published: Wednesday, 28th February 2018

This month's bulletin includes information on our commitment to the GDPR, Travis Perkins' estimation tool, Groundsure's environmental searches and reports, ReQuestaPlan's mapping service and more.

As a key partner to the planning and building control sector, we take our data processing and storage responsibilities very seriously. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect in just a few months, we wanted to update you on our approach and how it will affect your Planning Portal services.   

What is GDPR?

GDPR is an EU privacy law that will take effect on 25 May 2018. Anyone processing personal data will likely be affected by the GDPR. If you ever collect, record, store, use, or erase personal data from customers or contacts, the GDPR will have a significant impact your business. 

Transmitting data to local authorities

We’ve been working hard to prepare for the GDPR, including auditing our data processes and systems. We want to make sure there will be minimal impact to our services. We will continue to provide details of the changes and do our best to assist customers so they can continue to lawfully transfer and use personal data when the GDPR comes into effect.

One of the key changes is that users intending to create and submit applications on the Planning Portal website ( will need to confirm acceptance of our terms and conditions in order to register.

As part of this process we will also confirm with users that the submission of planning applications via the Planning Portal constitutes consent to transmit their (or their client’s) data to the relevant local planning authority (LPA) for the purpose of processing that application.

We will also reiterate this in the final declaration/confirmation screen (where the user is required to tick an explicit confirmation) prior to application submission. A similar statement will be included on all of our PDF-based forms.

Getting your permission to stay in touch

An integral part of GDPR compliance is getting consent from our users. Once we have consent we can contact users with relevant information about their industry as well as vital updates about our products and services. 

In order for us to continue our mission to improve planning and building control processes for all parties it is vital that we are able to communicate with our various audiences, share updates and encourage collaboration. In the coming months every planning or building control applicant will be asked to re-register. They will also be asked to select their preferences with regards to specific communications from the Planning Portal, including these bulletins.

In next month’s bulletin, we’ll give you more details on what you need to do and when to ensure the continuity of your Planning Portal service.

As part of our mission to help improve planning and building control processes, we are delighted to be working with Travis Perkins, the UK’s largest builders’ merchant, to promote their Estimating Service. This budget-friendly service offers accurate, timely and detailed evaluations for all project materials – all you need to provide is the plans.  It also includes costs for labour.  Coupled with the offer of competitive deals from Travis Perkins, it can help significantly streamline the planning process and minimise expenditure for you and your clients. 

Prices start from just £70 excluding VAT for a single story extension. Further consultation is provided in-store, where estimates can be reviewed and amended. 

Find out more about the Estimation Service

In our aim to provide a one-stop-shop for planning and building information and services, we have partnered with Groundsure to make environmental searches and reports more accessible to our professional customers.

We know that many professionals use Groundsure for the submission of applications and now you can access the service directly from the Planning Portal.  

Groundsure provide a timely delivery of vital environmental risk information in easily digestible reports or as raw data for use in your own systems. Architects, environmental consultants, surveyors, solicitors and private individuals can ensure they are equipped with vital location-based intelligence for their projects.

Find out more.

Covering all aspects of planning to avoid potential risks with Groundsure

When starting a project in any profession it is important to approach from a position of knowledge. This is especially true in design and construction where unexpected occurrences can prove painful and costly. Early acquisition of relevant information can ensure smooth progress and help to build mitigation into a project from the very beginning. 

Planning precedent: although not a guarantee, knowledge that similar applications nearby have been granted planning permission will help frame the scope of design and give you an idea of where you may be able to push the limits of function versus creativity.

Site history: knowing how a site has evolved over time - when specific structures were erected or where there was once a building that has long since vanished – can be a great tool in sympathetic and considered design. Historical maps and aerial imagery help provide a window to the past.

Protected areas: consideration should be made toward any environmentally protected areas that a site may fall within. Areas of land that hold a special status can have big implications for proposed activities or developments.

Conservation status: an existing property may be a listed building, or a site may fall within a conservation area. Even if not directly protected in this way, proximity of development to sites such as this can have implications that need early consideration.

Environmental risk: awareness of risks such as flooding or ground instability, or even simple knowledge of underlying geology, can be vital in design and in choice of materials.

Find out more and access Groundsure’s environmental reports.

March 2017 saw the launch of ReQuestaPlan, a digital mapping tool which sits as part of a suite of map products in our ‘Buy A Plan’ service. Developed by our parent company TerraQuest, this handy tool delivers compliant, low cost maps for planning and building control applications in minutes. Starting at only £8 plus VAT, we are proud to say this is the lowest price on the market.

We knew that applicants needed a tool that was reliable, compliant, simple to use and that supported a range of payment options including professional accounts – and that’s what we delivered. We’re looking forward to launching new features this year and are excited to launch a new look website which caters specifically for professionals.

To find out more about ReQuestaPlan you can email Lawrence Ngorand or call 07545 937 798.

We are delighted to report that we now have 63 local authorities signed up to our Payment ReDirect service. This service allows clients to securely and easily pay for planning applications submitted by their agents. It offers the following benefits:

  • Secure and simple: Your client will receive an instant payment notification to pay online, with a daily reminder to ensure prompt payment.  You will be notified when they’ve paid.
  • Speeds up validation: Removes cheque payments from the process, streamlining and improving registration and validation times, saving you, your clients and LPAs time and money.
  • Reduces financial risk: The client pays directly so you won’t be left with  cashflow or VAT issues.

Find out which local authorities are signed up to the service here. You can find out how the service works with our comprehensive user guide.

For more information, contact Ian Foster at the Planning Portal.

If you link to the Planning Portal on your company website, you should ensure any links to our website are to, rather than the domain, by 31 March.

In 2016 there was an extensive re-design of the Planning Portal and as a result there was a change of website address. The change was from using the suffix to

During this time redirects were put in place to take users from the old website address to the new website address.

At the start of April 2018, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will be withdrawing this redirect service. This means that any links on your site to us using the suffix will become defective, preventing users from accessing the Planning Portal from your site.

Please make sure all links to the Planning Portal are up-to-date on your website by 31 March, in order to prevent broken links and maintain a positive experience for your users. We also advise you to take the time to update any Planning Portal bookmarks you may have to reflect this final URL change.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email

We are always looking for ways to improve our products, services and website content and better serve our community. If you have any comments or suggestions, or would like to know more about our products and services, please contact us at