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Architect Bulletin - November 2018

Published: Wednesday, 28th November 2018

Broken links on your site from January 2019, The Professional Portal is one year old, List your company on the RTPI Directory of Planning Consultants or renew your listing

Since our website refresh in 2016, the old web address no longer exists. If you have any links on your website which lead to our services, guidance or content using the address, they are not linking to the correct place.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have been providing a redirect facility from this address to our site for some time, but they will be withdrawing this support in January 2019.

We have sent a number of communications on this subject over the last year, but our reports show that many businesses still use links to the old URL on their websites instead of the current URL.

If you want to avoid broken links and disrupted customer experience on your website, it is imperative that any incorrect links are updated as soon as possible.

Please make sure the IT department or web content team at your business has access to this message to make any necessary changes.

It’s been a year since we launched our Professional Portal and we’re delighted with all the positive feedback we’ve received from users over the past twelve months.

At the Planning Portal, we are always looking to improve and expand our content. We created the Professional Portal in response to requests from professionals from across the sector, who wanted an easy way to access all of the dedicated tools that they use frequently. 

These resources include, but are not limited to:

  • Application toolkit: Everything you need to build a planning or building control application
  • What’s new: Information about new services on the Portal
  • Legislation and guidance: Links to all the relevant planning and building control legislation and guidance
  • Find: Search tools to help you find other trade professionals in your local area, such as builders or planning consultants
  • Media hub: Important planning news, industry updates and social media links

With over 83,000 visits since launch and over 60 per cent of traffic coming from return visitors*, we know that the Professional Portal is working well, so take a look if you haven’t already. You can even bookmark it as your Planning Portal homepage. 

Of course, there is always room for improvement, so please let us know if you have any suggestions on how we could improve our Professional Portal to more accurately meet your needs, or the needs of your organisation.

If you have ideas, questions, or feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

* Google analytics November ’17 – November ’18

As you may be aware, at the start of this year the Planning Portal formed a partnership with the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) in order to support, develop and improve the RTPI Directory of Planning Consultants.

We are pleased to report that this partnership has resulted in a considerable increase in the number of people using the Directory to find a planning consultant.

Having the Directory featured on the Planning Portal site has increased its exposure; in fact over 50 per cent of the users visiting the Directory now do so via the Planning Portal. This has led to over 1,650 more users visiting the Directory every month*.

We are delighted to help direct many more potential customers to RTPI members.

If you work in a practice with a chartered RTPI member, your business is eligible to be listed on the directory.  Subscriptions for 2019 are being taken now and if you are not already listed in the directory we’ll include the remainder of 2018 free of charge.

Click here to renew your listing

Click here to list your company

If you need guidance on how to list your company and select the most appropriate package, you can download our guide here or contact Graeme Kirk on 0117 403 3372 or by email at

* Google analytics May ’18 – Oct ’18

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

The Raynsford Review of Planning is the first comprehensive look at the whole English planning system for decades and deserves to be taken seriously, says Chris Shepley.

There are people who read these columns; sometimes to meet (and often exceed) their CPD obligations, sometimes for the consummate and comprehensive dismemberment of government policy that they contain – and sometimes even for pleasure. 

My fans overlook my bewilderment regarding the current planning scene. I feel, like Alan Bennett, that writing about planning today “is like crossing a patch of swampy ground, jumping from one tussock to another, trying not to get my feet wet”. 

Maybe this explains the puzzlement that my fans feel over the fact that government policy has not, in response to this forensic monthly roasting, assumed a more sensible trajectory. From insane trivia like the policy to make it easier to convert launderettes to swimming pools, to profound issues such as the rise in homelessness, the inadequacy of current housing policies, or the unrecognised (in Westminster) implications of regional imbalance, I have sought to help ministers find a better course. This succour has been eschewed.

So, after eight long years, how bad are things now? I write this in anticipation of the final report of the Raynsford Review (I’m on the review team) later this month. After the interim report, there were those who questioned the notion that planning was in a bad way (we didn’t actually say it was ‘broken’, but that word was bandied around). People worried, understandably, that advocating further reform might play into the hands of those who wanted further to erode the system. And felt – also understandably – that still more change, after the unbounded adjustments of recent years, was more than anybody could cope with.

Still planners, heroically and against the odds, keep the system going. I don’t think their efforts to do so can be sufficiently praised. The cracks may be showing. A telephone call to a planning office may yield little other than the fading echo of long-departed planners, and the recorded voice of a young graduate lost in an ocean of targets and controversies. But nonetheless decisions get made, and reasonably quickly, and planners still make the world a much better place than it would be without them.

But yet planning is surely in a poorer state than it has been since 1947. Too often we are licensees for developers rather than creators of better places. We are holding things together well enough, but imaginative visions for the future of our country, or our towns and cities, are conspicuous often only by their absence.

Extensions to permitted development have produced apartments with the size and character of filing cabinets, and children now play among the lorries on industrial estates. New wheezes such as prior approval and permission in principle have helped to render the system incomprehensible to most of the population, without doing anything to help with the problems the nation faces. Time pressures mean that serious consideration of things as diverse as good design or climate change falls by the wayside. Public participation is becoming a lost art. 

This column thinks we should fight back. It thinks that we can cope with more change so long as it is change based on evidence, knowledge and experience rather than on the whim of some think-tanker equipped only with the back of an envelope. It thinks that you, the planner, have the skills and enthusiasm to do much better things than you are able to do now; that your potential needs to be released.

So read the Raynsford report (and engage with the forthcoming Labour Party consultation on planning, which is also employing such expertise as this column may have). Raynsford is the first comprehensive look at the whole of the system for decades. It deserves to be taken seriously.

Chris Shepley is the principal of Chris Shepley Planning and former Chief Planning Inspector

Chris Shepley, The Planner