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Local Authority bulletin - March 2018

Published: Wednesday, 28th March 2018

URGENT - Please update your Planning Portal links, Changes to the NPPF, Update on building control and our LABC Directory. And more articles...

Please note that this applies to both English and Welsh local authorities, though different actions are required for point 2.

We have sent a number of communications over the last year advising that the historic links on your local authority website need to be updated to links.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) are currently supporting redirects to both the Planning Portal website (including the 1App paper application forms) and access for your integrated 1APP connectors to retrieve applications, but this support is being withdrawn at some point after the end of this month (31 March).

It is vital to your service continuity that you arrange for the links on your site to be updated by 31 March at the very latest, as we cannot guarantee that old links will work after that date.

What you need to do

1. Updating your 1APP connector

If it isn’t you/your team that has responsibility for IT and integration to the Planning Portal, please contact your IT team and/or ICT supplier to discuss as soon as possible.

You will need to ensure that your 1APP connector integration is now using the correct web service URL and IP addresses.

Failure to make this change ASAP may result in application download failures that will need to be manually downloaded and re-keyed into your back-office system.

To update your integration the correct connector URL is:

The Planning Portal IP address is

If you have any queries regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact the Planning Portal Support team on

2. Updating your website links

To help you update the links on your website to the Planning Portal, we have created a planning links guide for local authorities.

Using these links will ensure customers will continue to be signposted to each Planning Portal service and have a positive experience using our site and yours.

The planning service links guide can be accessed here.

The building control links guide can be accessed here.

If your local authority continues to provide individual links to each of the planning application forms, a note on updating them can be accessed here.

For local authorities in Wales

From 29 May 2018, the Welsh Government will be providing the application service for Wales and associated homeowner content. Welsh Government will be in touch to advise what these links will be in due course.

On 5 March 2018, the Prime Minister announced a draft update to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The draft NPPF sees policies previously proposed in the government’s housing white paper and further discussed in supplementary consultations finally becoming reality. The changes come in a government bid to drastically increase the number of new homes being built throughout the UK. With this in mind the updates are focused mainly on housing, with the specific aim to build 300,000 new homes annually.

The framework has been structurally altered to now include 17 chapters. The sections have also been re-ordered and given a new numbering system to better emphasise the government’s current priorities.

In the revised changes, plan-making has been given a larger role, in keeping with the government’s desire to ensure the system is plan-focused and plan-driven at every stage.

A notable change is the inclusion of a standardised method of calculating local housing needs, something which has been widely anticipated since the Local Plans Expert Group reported to the Secretary of State back in March 2016.

The government has also proposed allowing the development on rural exception sites to deliver housing specifically for first-time buyers or renters.

The viability assessment paragraphs of the draft NPPF have also been altered. Paragraph 58 now states that if development proposals are in line with “all the relevant policies in an up-to-date development plan”, there will be no need to submit a viability assessment. New plans published in conjunction with the new NPPF also require that all viability assessments are made publically available.

The revised NPPF makes it clear that the Green Belt margins are protected and can only be re-considered in “exceptional circumstances”, which means that “all other reasonable options for meeting [the] identified need for development” have been explored. This is something The Prime Minister touched on in her speech on the 5 March.

The current NPPF stipulates that Starter Homes built on brownfield land which would not restrict openness and which met a clear housing need could not be considered an inappropriate development. The new draft extends this permission to apply to all affordable housing developments, as explained in Paragraph 144g.

Paragraph 145 in the draft also asserts that material changes of use that do not effect openness and would not conflict with Green Belt purposes are not to be found ”inappropriate” in the Green Belt.

The revisions also include:

  • Changes to current planning obligations (including a requirement that local plans should be reviewed every five years)
  • The introduction of housing targets for councils
  • A review of the Community Infrastructure Levy
  • A change to the definition of “affordable housing”.

In his speech announcing the launch of the new NPPF, The Secretary Of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government emphasised that government wanted to create a standardised methodology for local authorities to follow when assessing housing needs.

Currently councils have their own unique systems which he claimed are often “expensive or time wasting”. He implied that there will be penalties for councils which fail to hit targets and in a recent interview claimed that these penalties could include stripping councils of their ability to choose where houses are built.

Consultation on the draft ends on 10 May 2018 and the revised NPPF is expected to be published before the summer.

You can read the consultation proposals here.
Find the full draft of the NPPF text here.

It was really useful to meet representatives from so many authorities at the LABC annual conference recently. As you may know, back in 2016 we launched our building control application service. We have now updated this system for a second time in order to improve user experience.

The changes mean we can now provide Local Authority Building Control Services with a unique link to apply directly to their respective authorities. This was requested by many LABCs and will help to facilitate the partner authority scheme. For your unique link, contact the Planning Portal support team.

Several other aspects of the building control application service have also been improved:

  • We have updated content to ensure that LABC joint ventures are correctly and consistently referred to throughout the application service, meaning that both the JV and authority names are included for clarity
  • We have enhanced the integration with back-office systems to retrieve the application form, fees summary and attachment summary
  • We have also ironed-out the small inconsistencies which were previously present in the date picker feature on the forms. 

This service is supported by a wealth of expert guidance and information. It continues to go from strength to strength with 18,495 applications successfully submitted at time of writing and 211 local authorities linking to the service. We hope that the version 1.3 updates will further improve user experience and increase engagement with the system.

As part of our ongoing mission to transform planning and building control processes for all parties involved, we have forged a strategic partnership with LABC. The partnership includes republication of content to deliver the information both homeowners and professionals need for their projects.

We also host a Find Your LABC directory on our website.

We are keen to ensure that your local authority’s details are correct and up to date on the Directory. Please check the Directory at your earliest convenience and contact us at if there are any issues.

Watch this space - in next month’s Bulletin Martin Taylor, Commercial Director at LABC will be providing expert comment on Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. 

As a key partner to local authorities and the planning and building control sector at large, we take our data processing and storage responsibilities very seriously. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) just a few months away, we wanted to offer another update on our approach and how it will affect the Planning Portal. 

We have already posted updates on our Knowledge Hub and have discussed the legislation at our local authority roadshows in November and December, and we will continue to update as we have more news. Join our Knowledge Hub to make sure you stay informed about GDPR and other Planning Portal news.    

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 to register.

As part of this process we will also confirm with the user that the submission of planning applications through the Planning Portal constitutes consent to transmit their (or their client’s) data to the relevant local planning authority 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.

Please be advised that we will be also be updating our privacy policy in due course. Please look out for further email communications to your personal and centralised inboxes and on our Knowledge Hub. 

Getting your permission to stay in touch

An integral part of GDPR compliance is getting the consent of our service users to contact them with relevant information about their industry and job function, 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 involved, it is vital that we are able to communicate with our various audiences, share updates and learnings 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 for specific communications from the Planning Portal, including these bulletins.

The guidance text at the top of the 7thCommunity Infrastructure Levy form ‘Self Build Exemption Claim Form Part 1’ has been replaced with the following flow chart:

CIL form 7 imageThe inclusion of this flow chart means that Section B has been moved from page one of the form to page two. There have not been any changes to any of the form fields.

The above change was made at a request from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) based on user feedback. The aim is to make the forms easier to use.

Access the form

Sign up to our group on the Knowledge Hub to keep up to date with upcoming changes and improvements and also engage with other local authorities in a forum environment.

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