Latest news

Local Authority Bulletin - June 2018

Published: Wednesday, 27th June 2018

Permission In Principle, How important is BIM?, Planning Portal and the Federation of Master Builders agree strategic partnership and more stories...

The Planning Portal team have been thinking about our service delivery - specifically how we can reduce the number of invalid planning applications whilst adding value to the provision of our service.

The most common reason for invalid online applications remains payment by cheque.

On reviewing online submission figures, our data shows that approximately 25 per cent of application fees are paid for by cheque. This delays the processing of applications and requires stretched resources at authorities to chase payment - a headache for you, but also for agents and applicants who want applications validated as quickly as possible.

We have a solution, but it will involve a major change in the way we operate the Planning Portal service.  We plan to launch it in the autumn this year.

It is therefore vitally important that your authority is fully aware of this new service so we can ensure there is no disruption to your receipt of applications.

To ensure that you fully understand the change and to give you the chance to discuss it with us, please do try to book a place on one of the regional events listed below. To reserve a place you will need to register for a specific event.

Register for an event

  • North West (Liverpool)  9 July, 09:30 – 13:00
  • Yorkshire (Kirklees)  10 July, 09:30 – 13:00
  • East England (Cambridge)  11 July, 09:30 – 13:00
  • Midlands (Birmingham)  17 July, 09:30 – 13:00
  • South West (Bristol)  18 July, 09:30 – 13:00
  • South East (Sevenoaks)  19 July, 13:00 – 16:00
  • South (Guildford)  20 July, 09:30 – 13:00

The events should last no-longer than a half day and refreshments and lunch will be provided.

Upon completion of the registration survey we will send you a confirmation email of your booking.

Who should attend?

To ensure those with direct responsibility for development management attend, we recommend that Development Managers and/or Planning Administration Managers, or individuals in similar roles, register for these events. (Please note; places are limited to two attendees per authority).

Please contact if you have any questions.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Applications for ‘Permission in Principle’ can now be submitted to Local Authorities in England. We have made a downloadable PDF form available on the paper forms section of the Planning Portal.

The current scope of these applications is limited to minor residential developments with less than 10 dwellings and related non-residential work.

This specifically excludes:

  • Major developments: In the context of residential developments these are any proposals with 10+ dwellings; 1000+ square metres floor space; or 1+ hectare site area.
  • Householder development: Development of (or within the curtilage of) an existing dwelling for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling.
  • Habitats development: Anything that has a significant effect on a ‘European site’ or ‘European offshore marine site’.
  • Schedule 1 development: Any development listed in Schedule 1 of the Environmental Impact Assessment regulations.

If ‘Permission In Principle’ is granted, an additional ‘Technical Details Consent’ (submitted as a full planning application but with specific reference to the ‘Permission in Principle’ consent) is also required before development can commence.

View government guidance on Permission In Principle.

Planning Application form changes

There have been several minor updates to the online and PDF application forms. These are to help clarify the information that is now required.

If the development relates to a previously granted permission in principle, the question text now specifies that users need to enter the details of the consent into the ‘Description of proposed works’ field.

When the development adds or removes non-residential floor space, we have updated the relevant column headers to ensure users know what values our system requires in this regard.

Where asked to provide details of any relation that the applicant or agent has to a Local Authority employee or elected member we have updated the question text to better clarify what this includes and which details should be provided.

When users are required to complete the initial Community Infrastructure Levy questions we have clarified that proposals for new dwellings include residential annexes. This should to allow Local Authorities to more accurately determine if the levy applies to such proposals.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a 3D-modelling process which involves collecting and managing as much information as possible on current or proposed structures. We would like to know if you currently use this technology and what BIM means to you and your organisation.

With BIM, information is made digitally available to all relevant parties, which in principle means professionals involved at every stage of a project can make better, more informed decisions.    

We would like to know if you currently use this technology and what BIM means to you and your organisation.

Please complete a short survey to help us collect information that will help us improve our service.

It will only take a few minutes to complete.

Complete the survey

The information you provide in this survey will be used to help us write a report, due to be published in the summer.

If you would like further information about our research or would like us to share this report with you, please email

The Planning Portal and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) are pleased to announce that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, signalling their intent to work more closely together for the benefit of their joint customers and members.

The Planning Portal has been promoting FMB’s ‘Find a Builder’ service since 2016.  This service, which includes over 8,000 vetted local builders, has been popular with the Planning Portal’s 500,000 users; especially consumers using the website to plan a wide range of home improvement and building projects.

Following the success of this partnership, the two organisations are now seeking to broaden their relationship in other areas of mutual interest.

Sarah Chilcott, Managing Director of the Planning Portal, had this to say: “We’re delighted to have signed this Memorandum of Understanding with the FMB, welcoming them into our group of strategic partners; all of whom share with us similar aims, values and ethics.  We firmly believe that working in partnership with like-minded organisations results in better outcomes for our customers.

We are therefore very much looking forward to working with FMB more closely in the future to provide even more value to the Planning Portal’s consumer and B2B users.”

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “Working more closely with the Planning Portal will benefit builders and consumers alike as it will help consumers better understand the often complex planning and building system.

With more than 8,000 vetted Master Builders our members are best placed to help consumers deliver the building projects they desire. This new initiative with the Planning Portal is an important step to assist this process.”

The following article is provided by RTPI’s ‘The Planner’ magazine:

Resolving the tensions between development and heritage requires vision, sensitive policymaking and plenty of consultation, says Colette McCormack – even more so when the scheme, Liverpool Waters, falls within a designated World Heritage Site.

As the UK economy changes, along with our work and life patterns, it is the role of the planning system, and those that work within it, to ensure that development is delivered that reflects those changes. In some of our great cities such as Liverpool, our historic docks are being developed and this provides an opportunity to acknowledge our heritage while creating neighbourhoods that people want to live in.

But redevelopment of these historic docks is not without its constraints and challenges, in particular in Liverpool, where a number of docks fall within a designated World Heritage Site (WHS) or its buffer zone. Add to that the listed buildings on the waterfront and one can see why redevelopment needs careful planning.

It also requires a vision and a long-term commitment to the redevelopment by the landowner and it is this long-term commitment that makes the difference in terms of successful delivery.

"Liverpool Waters was granted permission locally with no objection from Historic England"

The Liverpool Waters scheme is a case in point. This was always an ambitious project because it involves redevelopment of 60 hectares of disused docks, part in the WHS and part in the buffer zone with listed buildings on site, and it sits adjacent to the iconic (and listed) Three Graces.

However, a key component of this scheme is that the site has one landowner and that landowner has not only ambitions for the site to bring it back into use and connect the docks back to the city, but it importantly has long-term commitment to delivery of the site. This commitment allows the landowner to keep control not only of delivery, but also the quality of design and public realm.

The WHS designation obliges the government to protect the Outstanding Universal Value and this requires a management plan to be in place to demonstrate how sites will be protected. In Liverpool there is an adopted supplementary planning document that deals specifically with the WHS and any proposed development has to comply with that policy.

The key for successful development is to continue consulting as the development progresses so, if we look at Liverpool Waters, there was extensive consultation with the local planning authority (LPA), the local community and interest groups during the planning process as well as statutory consultees such as Historic England (if Historic England objects to a planning application it triggers a referral to the secretary of state to use his powers to call in the application for determination. This in turn leads to a public inquiry and adds delay and costs to the scheme).

"One of the innovative initiatives created by the landowner and the LPA is a suite of panels that meet regularly to review development. These panels consider reserved matter applications before submission to the LPA to secure design quality and heritage issues"

Liverpool Waters was granted permission locally with no objection from Historic England. Part of the landowner’s long-term commitment is to continued consultation as the project is delivered over the next 30 years. One of the innovative initiatives created by the landowner and the LPA is a suite of panels that meet regularly to review development. These panels consider reserved matter applications before submission to the LPA to secure design quality and heritage issues. For a site this big, which will be delivered over a long period of time in phases, a coordination panel has also been created. The LPA sits on all panels and provides input, as do other appropriate organisations such as Historic England.

These panels are not statutory, but they do provide continued dialogue and valued input into the delivery of the development. The grant of the permission is only the start of the process and successful development will seek input as the scheme evolves, but this is only really effective if there is a clear commitment from the landowner to do this, which again requires vision and commitment to be in the city for the long term.

The Liverpool Waters permission allows for development over 30 years and the landowner is committed to continuing to work with the LPA to deliver its vision of a high-quality sustainable development.

Colette McCormack, The Planner