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Local Authority Bulletin - November 2018

Published: Wednesday, 28th November 2018

Broken links on your site from January 2019, The Professional Portal is one year old!, Consultation launches on compulsory pre-application measures for shale gas developments and more stories...

Our recent reports show that there are still local authorities using the old link to connect to us via their back-office system. This link needs to be updated to as soon as possible, otherwise from January it will be broken and any local authority still using it will no longer be able to download applications from us.

The old web address no longer exists. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have been providing a redirect service from this address to our site for some time, but they are planning to withdraw this support in January 2019.

We have sent a number of communications on this subject over the last year, but our reports show that as well as the back-office connectors, several local authority user-facing websites still contain links to These links are not pointing to the correct place and will break in January 2019.

If you want to avoid broken links which will lead to a disrupted customer journey, resulting in more calls into your authority, it is imperative that these incorrect links are located on your site and fixed as soon as possible.

Please ensure that the IT department or web content team at your local authority has access to this message.

Linking to the Planning Portal from your site

We have created a links guide which includes a collection of the most useful Planning Portal URLs for Local Authority websites specifically. These links are our most frequently used and we strongly recommend you include them on your site to improve user journey.

We’ve created distinct guides for both Planning and Building control. These guides include handy advice on how to get the most out of linking to our services, as well as optional text to accompany the links.

You can find our links guides below:

Planning links guide

Building control links guide

If you have any questions about linking to our services, please contact us via

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 authority.

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

* Google analytics November ’17 – November ’18

Consultation has now begun on whether or not shale gas development should require compulsory pre-application consultations with local communities.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government launched the consultation on 31 October 2018, soon after the closure of two other MHCLG consultations around shale gas, which both closed on the 25 October.

One of the previous consultations asked for views on whether shale gas exploration should become permitted development, the other asked if shale gas production should be included in the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime.

MHCLG will publish their responses to these consultations in due course.

The current consultation focuses on whether or not pre-application community consultation should become obligatory before submitting a planning application for the work.

You can find out more about the consultation and share your views on the Government’s website.

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