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Architect Bulletin - August 2018

Published: Wednesday, 29th August 2018

This month's bulletin includes Financial Transaction Service Guidance, 1app changes, ReQuestaPlan Version 2, where you can find us this Autumn, and more stories...

Last month we announced that our new Financial Transaction Service (FTS) will launch in September of this year. We are now pleased to confirm the official launch date for the service will be Monday 10 September 2018.

Over the past four weeks we have been overwhelmed with positive feedback, from users who are optimistic and excited about the forthcoming changes.

The service will be completely managed by the Planning Portal. From 10 September 2018, we will process all fees for applications that come through our system, meaning less time spent chasing, paying and reconciling planning fees for everyone. Agents will be able to focus on activities which generate income and LPAs will be able to get on with processing applications.

Our service will simplify the process of paying for applications and help to eradicate the issue of invalidation due to missing payment from the English planning system.

We will now send applications and fees to relevant local authorities together, as soon as we have confirmed successful payment. This will keep the process rapid, succinct and tidy, preventing problems which arise from missing information. It will also allow authorities to start validating planning applications as soon as they get them rather than waiting for payment.

There will be a per-application service charge for the service. This will be payable by the applicant on any application submitted via the Planning Portal which attracts a fee. Applications where no fee is payable will be sent directly to the local authority with no service charge applied.

As well as covering the cost of the additional staff needed to manage this service, the service charge will cover direct costs such as banking and finance fees. The remainder of the income will be used to improve the planning application service and to ensure that our services, advice, guidance and support continue to be available and up-to-date.

Please note: In order to prepare our service for the forthcoming changes, the planning application service (1App) will be unavailable from 17:00 on Friday 7 September until 09:00 on Monday 10 September.

You can find FAQs and a step-by-step guide for the new service below.

User FAQs

Step-by-step guide

Last month we announced some imminent updates to our online application service.

Due to implementation delays, these changes are now due to take effect in mid September.

You can find a summary of the forthcoming changes below:

Application question content update

  • Authority Employee/Member - The wording of this question is being updated to account for the changes made by MHCLG. The information requirements of this question remain as is.
  • Residential/Dwelling Units - A workaround is being put in place to allow users to provide the correct details in regard to housing categories and dwelling types.
  • Details of relevant ‘permission in principle’ on applications for ‘technical details consent’ - Full Planning Permission applications for technical details consent require applicants to provide details of the permission in principle that is being relied on. The wording of the ‘description of the proposal’ question is being updated to reflect this requirement.

Update to fee exemptions

The more general exemption in regard to Article 4 directions and planning conditions that was removed in January as part of the changes to fees is being reworded and re-introduced to specifically refer to the Regulation 6 exemption that is still in effect.

Separately, the exemption in regard to the first resubmission of an advertising application has been reworded to better convey the legislative restrictions that apply to it.

TerraQuest Solutions, Planning Portal’s parent company, is delighted to announce that an updated version of the ReQuestaPlan website,, will be launching in September.

We are really excited about the updates to this site, which have helped to improve the functionality of the service for all users.

Changes to the homepage include:

  • The addition of an easy-to-use development address search
  • Useful information and guidance on drawing a compliant location plan and site or block plan
  • A comprehensive video guide, to walk you through the process of downloading plans

Updates to the drawing tools:

  • Detailed plan scales to choose from, for both location plans and block plans
  • A clearer choice between PDF or DWG download document formats
  • Clearer and new layers for DWG plan users
  • New drawing tools, so you can now add shapes onto plans and include real environmental features such as trees or fences
  • New measurement tools, so you can draw your proposed development with accuracy

These changes will not affect your existing ReQuestaPlan accounts in any way.

If you want to understand how a ReQuestaPlan professional account can save you money on plans, call 0121 234 1300 today, or email

The final quarter of 2018 brings with it a host of significant events within the planning and building sectors. We are committed to being a part of the significant conversations taking place within the industry right now, so are delighted to announce we will be attending the following:

LABC’s Delivering Excellence in Social Housing Conference

This long-awaited conference pledges to discuss current issues within the social housing sphere. A lengthy schedule of expert speakers will tackle these vital subjects head-on, providing a diverse range of knowledge and insight on the most pressing topics facing the industry today, such as fire safety.

The five-hour event will be held on 30 October 2018, at the Docklands building in Canary Wharf, London.

You can find out more about the event and book your ticket via LABC’s website.

CIAT AT Awards

We are delighted to announce ourselves as an official sponsor of CIAT’s 2018 AT awards.

CIAT’s prestigious AT awards celebrate innovation and achievement in architectural technology. Judges seek to commend projects which are economical, environmentally positive and built-to-last.

The AT Practice awards are open to both individuals and practices across all disciplines. The Award for Excellence in Architectural Technology is open to all projects, whilst The Alan King Award for Excellence in Architectural Technology is for developments with a value of less than £750k.


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

1st July 2018 marked the 70th anniversary of legislation which represented a seismic shift in the way in which land in England can be used and developed – the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. This momentous Act came into force on the "appointed day" of 1st July 1948. It was proposed and steered though Parliament by the then minister of town and country planning, Lewis Silkin MP – and needless to say we are very proud of the central role played by the founding father of this firm in settling the framework of our planning regime, principles of which survive to this day. Town planning requirements were initially captured within the Housing Acts, as a natural adjunct to improvements to housing.

However, there was a recognition that a comprehensive planning and building response was needed to address the devastation caused by the Second World War - hence the previous (limited) town planning provisions in the Housing Acts were repealed, and the 1947 Act brought forward a brand new approach to the use and physical development of land. The essence of new regime was twofold:

1. To introduce local development plans, prepared by local authorities and approved centrally, to give direction to future development (forward planning)

2. No development of land (building or change of use) unless authorised by planning permission.

These two principles endure today, despite extensive change in context, and it's a credit to Lewis Silkin's vision that this is the case. It has not all been plain sailing, of course. Endless legislative amendment has been made to the Act in an effort to refine the detail. One particular and recent change in approach is that promoted by the current government in the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017, whereby greater emphasis is given to "neighbourhoods" in the development planning system (which, it might be argued, results as much as anything from a political need to demonstrate the esteem in which the "neighbourhood" is held). In contrast, Lewis Silkin's approach, as he explained in the second reading Parliamentary debate on the proposed Act, was for development plans to be co-ordinated by those at county or county borough level, in that way undertaken by "a responsible authority, equipped with fully qualified staff, and possessing the necessary financial resources".

Lewis Silkin's comment here was aimed specifically at the production of development plans. However, what is striking is the way in which Lewis Silkin, in talking about the development plan production system, hit the nail very hard on the head when he spoke of the adequately resourced local authority. This is a fundamental point which applies across the entirety of the planning regime, from forward planning to consenting, enforcement to heritage management, and Lewis Silkin's comment is remarkably prescient, with far wider application than originally envisaged.

It is local planning authorities’ forever diminishing resources which leads to the planning system being slower and less proactive and reactive than it should be. The many changes to both the primary and secondary legislation, combined with inadequately considered public statements and tweaking of policy, has led to a system that is undoubtedly complex, but planning authorities cannot be expected to operate efficiently if they are under resourced, irrespective of the nuts and bolts of the law and policy which they must apply and within whose scope they must work.

Lewis Silkin introduced the Bill's second reading in 1947, saying that it would "begin a new era in the life of this country, an era in which human happiness, beauty and culture will play a greater part in its social and economic life than they have done before." It seems that these basic principles, so eloquently put by Lewis Silkin in 1947, are needed as much today, if not more so, in the face of the rapid and significant change in all quarters – economic, social, technical and environmental.

It is only right that Lewis Silkin's achievement in promoting and securing the enactment of the 1947 Act, upon which our current planning regime still rests, should be recognised and celebrated on this its 70th anniversary. We at the law firm which bears Lewis Silkin’s name are proud to continue the tradition of supporting clients through the often complex planning regime with (we hope) the clarity and pragmatism which our founding father so wished the system would express.

Douglas Ainsley, The Planner