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Local Authority Bulletin - September 2018

Published: Friday, 28th September 2018

An update on our IP address change, the Financial Transaction Service, FAQs for the Financial Transaction Service, changes to our online LPA guidance and more...


Urgent - The following will take place today (Friday 28 September from 4pm) and may require you to make the necessary changes in order to prevent disruption.

Please forward this message to your IT department:

Web service IP address change impacting 1App connectors

We have been informed by Microsoft that they will be changing the IP address of the web app that hosts the Planning Portal web service. This web service is the software from which your back office system receives all your planning applications.

The IP address is changing later today from 4pm. Unfortunately, this change is not specific to the Planning Portal and we therefore have no say in when or if this change is made.

We recommend that you use the domain name (https://connect.planningportal.co.uk/planningportal/messagerouter) rather than the IP address to connect your back office 1App connector to the Planning Portal web service. If you use the domain name, you will avoid being affected by any IP address changes.

However, we are aware that some authorities are using the IP address to whitelist the web service.

Therefore it is vital that if you are using the IP address to access or whitelist the web service, you ensure that your IT team add the following IP address ASAP: The new IP address is 168.63.53.98

If this isn’t done, you won’t receive applications via your 1App connector and will need to manually download them from the website until the IP address has been updated.

If you need any assistance with this change, please contact our Support team on 0333 323 4589 or at support@planningportal.co.uk.


It’s now been almost three weeks since our new financial transaction service was launched.  So far it has mostly gone well and we can see the volume of applications is remaining fairly consistent.  We can also see a big shift to the online payment options (online and nominate a third party; also known as ‘Payment ReDirect’). 

As with any project of this size, there have however been teething problems and we wanted to let you know what they are and how we are working to fix them:

Email notifications on the ‘nominate a third party to pay’ process
We have encountered an issue with the process to nominate a third party to pay.  The issue is causing the nominee and the agent to get daily reminder emails and after seven days a payment cancellation email, even if the application has been successfully paid. We have been working to urgently fix this issue and stop the additional emails.  Subject to further testing, we expect this issue to be fixed early next week.  In the meantime, we have advised all agents and their existing nominees of the issue and reassured them that it has not impacted the submission of their applications.

Two email addresses for local authority remittance advice
Many have asked that the remittance advice be sent to both the planning and finance addresses you provided.  This will be fixed at the same time as the first issue above.  If you want to change the address(es), please let us know by contacting support@planningportal.co.uk. We will action your request as quickly as possible.

Disabling of the ability to export draft application forms to PDF
Some agents, though happy with the service, are unhappy with the change we made to remove the function to export application forms in draft. This change was made to prevent applications being emailed directly to you. We are working with our technical supplier to resolve this, without providing users with a ‘submittable’ application form which could be emailed to you. As soon as we have time frames on this, we will advise our agents. If you get any questions in the meantime, please direct them to our Support desk.

Financial Transaction Service and Building Control
It has also been brought to our attention that rumours are circulating which suggest the service could be applied to building control applications. This is categorically not in our plans. It does not fit with our strategy of partnership with LABC, nor is it practical. Planning fees are nationally set and our planning service therefore caters for the calculation and payment of fees as part of the process.


In light of the recent launch of our Financial Transaction Service, we have updated the ‘Services and Information’ section of our site for local planning authorities.

These updates were implemented with the aim of making our local authority content easier to navigate and use. Please visit our site to familiarise yourself with the range of tools and information we have available.

You can now find all the information you need on the Financial Transaction Service on our new local authority Financial Transaction Service page.

If you have any feedback on how we could further improve our local authority section to provide additional support, please let us know, we'd love to hear from you. You can email your suggestions to editorial@planningportal.co.uk.

The best way to keep up to date, not only with Planning Portal developments but also share your experiences with other local authorities is to join the Planning Portal local authority group on the Knowledge Hub. Find out how to do that here.


Please be aware that we now maintain a change log which can be found on the Knowledge Hub.

Last month we announced some imminent updates to our online application service, and we are happy to announce that the updates are now live.

To recap, the changes are outlined below:

Application question content update

  • Authority Employee/Member - The wording of this question has been updated to account for the changes made by the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The information requirements of this question remain as is.
  • Residential/Dwelling Units - A workaround has been 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 has been 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 has been 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.


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

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published new and updated Planning Practice Guidance (PPG). This reflects the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was published in July. Here, The Planner has highlighted some key changes, many of which were set out in the revised PPG in March.

New guidance

Plan-making

•Local authorities are not “obliged” to accept needs from neighbouring areas if they can demonstrate doing so “would have an adverse impact when assesses against policies in the NPPF”. Inspectors, though, will expect to see that local authorities have addressed key strategic matters through “effective joint working” and not deferred them to subsequent plan updates.

•Local authorities should produce and update statement(s) of common ground throughout the plan-making process. The PPG states that it should include a number of points, including: the location and why; the key strategic matters being addressed by the statement; governance arrangements for the cooperation process; and a record of where agreements have (or have not) been reached on key strategic matters.

•On evidence gathering, the PPG encourages “authorities to use social media tools and other platforms to communicate with communities, where appropriate”.

•Includes a section on how it can be demonstrated that large-scale developments can be developed within a set timescale.

Build to rent

•Local authorities should use a local housing need assessment to work out whether there is a need for build to rent homes in their area. If a need is identified, local authorities should include in their local plan a policy that sets out an approach to promoting and accommodating build to rent.

•The PPG states that 20 per cent is “generally a suitable benchmark” for the level of affordable private rent homes to be provided, and maintained in perpetuity, in any build to rent scheme. Additionally, national affordable housing policy requires a minimum rent discount of 20 per cent for affordable private rent homes relative to local market rents.

•Consideration should be given to a “covenant period” for the retention of private market rent homes in that tenure. Also, potential compensation mechanisms should be considered in case private market rent homes are sold before the expiration of an agreed covenant period.

Updated:

Neighbourhood Plans

•In order for neighbourhood plan areas to benefit from the limited protection of paragraph 14 of the revised NPPF – from the presumption in favour of sustainable development – neighbourhood plans must include housing policies and allocations.

•Policies and allocations must meet the identified housing requirement “in full”, whether that is derived from “the standard methodology for local housing need, the housing figure in the area’s strategic policies, an indicative figure provided by the local authority, or where it has exceptionally been determined by the neighbourhood planning body”.

•Where a neighbourhood plan-making body wants to allocate sites for development an appraisal of options and assessment of individual sites against clearly identified criteria will need to be carried out. Allocated sites should be shown on the policies map with a clear site boundary drawn on an Ordnance Survey base map.

Housing and economic land availability assessment

•This section introduces the housing delivery test, the rule book for which can be found here.

•The housing secretary will publish the Housing Delivery Test results annually in November. The test does not apply to “National Park Authorities, the Broads Authority and development corporations without (or not exercising) both plan-making and decision-making functions”.

•Areas that already have or are producing a joint plan can monitor their five-year land supply and have the Housing Delivery Test applied over the whole joint planning area or on a single authority.

•If housing delivery falls below the housing requirement, certain policies in the NPPF will apply:

- 95 per cent of the Housing Delivery Test results, an action plan will be required.

- A 20 per cent buffer on a local planning authority’s five-year supply if housing delivery falls below 85 per cent.

- The presumption in favour of sustainable development if housing delivery falls below 75 per cent, once transitional arrangements have ended.

This will apply until the subsequent Housing Delivery Test results are published, or a new housing requirement is adopted.

•Action plans will be produced by the local planning authority, and identify the reasons for under-delivery and for improvement.

•Local authorities are still required to review their five-year housing supply annually.

Housing need assessment 

•The standard method (consulted on last year) should be used to assess housing need, while “any other method” will be used only in exceptional circumstances.

•If a local authority uses an alternative approach that results in a lower housing need than the one calculated using the standard method, it “should in principle be considered to be unsound”. If an alternative approach identifies a higher need than the standard method it should be “considered sound as it will have exceeded the minimum starting point”.

•Local housing need calculated using the standard method can be relied upon for two years from the time that a plan is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination.

The PPG in full can be found here on the MHCLHG website.

Laura Edgar, The Planner