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Architectural Bulletin - June 2019

Published: Wednesday, 26th June 2019

Draft legislation for planning application fees and developer contributions, Submitting an application on behalf of a client? What happens to the information? and more articles...

Planning application fees 

The draft legislation seeks to make two changes.

Firstly, it will remove the regulation that would have caused the main fees legislation to expire in November. This averts the prospect of all planning applications becoming free of charge at that point.

Secondly, based on the consultation response on permitted development rights, it will introduce a £96 fee for the prior approval application required for larger home extensions under Schedule 2; Part 1; Class A of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended).

With the permitted development right in regard to larger home extensions being made permanent and latest government statistics showing that over 70 per cent of all prior approval applications are of this type, this sets the fee in line with similar procedures for other permitted changes of use.

The legislation is subject to parliamentary approval, and is currently making its way through that process.

We will communicate further details of when the fee will take effect once this date is confirmed.

Developer contributions

Government published a response to their most recent consultation on developer contributions earlier this month.

This, alongside the draft legislation to which it relates, proposes “to make developer contributions through CIL and planning obligations fairer and more effective, as well as to make their application more transparent.”

While around half of local authorities currently charge, the changes look to simplify the process of putting a charging schedule in place (or revising an existing one), the aim being to encourage further adoption of the levy.

Separately, measures to better consider the effects of ceasing to charge are also included, to promote continued use of CIL once in place.

They also look to free up the current restrictions on ‘pooling’ contributions for single infrastructure projects, to allow more flexibility when allocating funding.

With this, comes the requirement that local authorities make details of allocations transparent through the yearly publication of ‘infrastructure funding statements’. 

In regard to the amounts charged, the proposed changes to the way CIL rates are indexed will not be taken forward. However, it does ensure that any amendment to a planning consent that alter the development’s CIL liabilities are based on the rates that applied at the time of the original permission and at the time of the amendment, rather than simply being recalculated at the latest rate.

It also reduces the “disproportionate” penalties for late submission of ‘Commencement Notices’ (which inform the local authority when development will begin) where exemptions and/or relief from CIL apply, and will also confirm that these notices are not required for exempt residential extensions.

The legislation is subject to parliamentary approval, and is currently making its way through that process.

We will communicate further details of when it will take effect (and any changes we are making to our forms and guidance) once this date is confirmed.

When you complete an application on behalf of a client, you are responsible for entering the required details into the form and providing any relevant supporting documentation.

Due to the nature of the process, some of these details will contain personal data about the applicant, and some could contain personal data about a third party (e.g. land owners)

While the professional relationship you have with your client should cover your need to provide information on their behalf, it is not always possible to have this same arrangement with third parties.

Local authorities are obliged by legislation to provide a publicly accessible record of planning applications. These days, this means that applications, once validated, are usually made available via the local authority website.

The Planning Portal is committed to assisting it’s users in achieving GDPR compliance. As part of this commitment, we recently reviewed the information that is included in application forms submitted to local authorities in England.

When an application is created using the Planning Portal and submitted to a local planning authority, the system sends two copies of the form to the local authority. One copy is the complete application; the other copy is a redacted version which removes personal information. The local authority can then upload the redacted version to their publicly available online planning registers.

We found that we could make some changes to help local authorities know exactly what information they are publishing when they add applications to their public register and have been working hard to develop these improvements.

In the forthcoming version of the redacted application form, the data inputted into the following fields is automatically removed:

  • All applicant and agent contact details (not including name and postal address).
  • All question fields that specifically request third party names and contact details (not including postal address) (e.g. site visit details and ownership certificates).

The development of this work has progressed, and the project is currently in the testing phase and will be delivered soon.

We believe this enhanced level of redaction strikes an appropriate balance in helping local authorities; covering their basic GDPR needs without removing details that some authorities may want to make publicly available on the planning register.

It also helps protect you when your submissions are required to contain personal data from the applicant and third parties.

Of course, based on the policies of individual local authorities, further redactions may be made on application forms before they are published, and information from the application form may be made available separately.

If you have any concerns regarding the provision and subsequent publication of any personal data in an application you are submitting, it is advised that you discuss the matter with the local authority before submission or during the validation process.

Earlier this year the Planning Portal distributed a questionnaire to architects and other planning professionals to better understand the reasons why local planning authorities might invalidate their applications. The responses we received were predominantly from architects, or those working within the architectural industry, with 70.28% of answers being submitted by professionals within this field.  We have accumulated the findings below, based on the answers we received from them. 

Does your company submit applications locally, regionally or nationally?

The majority of those who participated, 43.1% said they submit local planning applications to authorities around where they are based, whilst 36.82% submit regional applications across a county area, and a minority of only 20% make applications nationally. 

Types of application that you submit 

The types of application submitted varied widely for the participants, but full planning permissions were clearly the most commonly submitted application, with 88.66% of participants stating that they worked with these. Householder planning permissions were the second most frequently submitted, with 78.15%, whilst listed building/conservation area consents were notably high, with 71.43% of participants submitting these applications. 

The least prevalent by a large percentage were both advertisement consents (22.27%) and tree works applications (18.49%), although none of the participants of the questionnaire stated that they worked in outdoor advertising or as a tree surgeon or arborist, so it would naturally make sense for these application types to be lower.  

Application type

If applications that you have submitted have been invalidated by local authorities, what are the reasons they give?

The most prevalent reason given for applications being invalidated by local authorities was due to missing or incorrect information being included with the application. This made up the top three reasons architects and planning professionals found their applications were being rejected;

  1. Missing supporting information relating to local-level authority validation checklists
  2. Missing or incorrect information on detailed plans
  3. Missing or incorrect information on site/block location plans 

The answers to questions relating to ease of submitting an application and the validation process often received a high negative response from participants, with the majority experiencing issues in their interactions with local authorities. Whilst this could be due to a great number of reasons, such as the resources available or the processes which need to be followed by a particular local authority, it can cause problems for applicants, resulting in frustration. 

Despite legislation being in place to help both applicants and local authorities, when it comes to processing applications, issues arise for both parties, resulting in delays and rejections of applications. 

Do you feel that local authorities provide a proportionate approach to registration and validation?

The majority of questionnaire participants said they don’t believe that local authorities provide a proportionate approach to registration and validation, with just 27.78% confirming that they did.

LPA proportion

The vast majority of professionals who responded didn’t believe that there was a consistent approach to planning applications across LPAs nationally, with only 15.66% answering yes.

Do you feel that the same approach is applied consistently across all the local authorities that you submit to?

Same approach

Where you have sought pre-application advice, would you say this improves the quality and speed of validation and determinations? 

Applicants who believed that pre-application advice had been advantageous to them were in a small minority as only 11.17% believed this to be productive. Whilst the majority of 47.72% did not believe this had helped them with an application in the past, 42.64% of participants had found pre-application advice helpful at some point during their careers, suggesting that it could be a positive service. 

This information was gathered to better understand the relationship between architects, planning professionals and local authorities, and to focus on the invalidation of planning applications and what can be done to ensure the process becomes more streamlined and efficient for all parties involved.  

To help create an easier and more consistent planning process, we’d like to hear your thoughts. What reasons do you believe are causing these issues for both applicants and LPAs and what measures do you think could ease the planning process?  To let us know your feedback please contact us via

Experts from Newcastle and Northumbria Universities will develop new technologies to revolutionise how buildings are constructed and how they operate.

The institutions have been jointly awarded £8m from Research England's Expanding Excellence in England fund to establish the world's first research Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment (HBBE). It will lead to a whole new concept of the way we design and construct our buildings.

Its aim is to create a new generation of 'Living Buildings', which are responsive to the natural environment, grow using living engineered materials, which process their own waste. reduce pollution, generate energy and support a biological environment that benefits health.

Hub Co-Director Dr Martyn Dade-Robertson, a Reader in Design Computation in the School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape at Newcastle University, said: "This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to create a new field of research. By bringing together designers, engineers and bio-scientists, working with industry and investing in state-of-the-art facilities, we are aiming to rethink the building industry."

Hub Co-Director Professor Gary Black, a professor in Protein Biochemistry, Northumbria University said: "We want to use the very latest biotechnologies to create living homes that are responsive to, and protective of their environment and the people who live in them. The current construction of buildings is unsustainable due to its carbon footprint. The hope would be to use this model in housing in the future."

Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: "Pushing the boundaries of knowledge and conquering new innovations are what our universities are known for the world over. This programme led by Newcastle and Northumbria Universities will look to create a new generation of homes and offices that consume their own waste and are healthier for people using them.

The Expanding Excellence in England Fund will support projects throughout England to master new and developing areas of research and industry.

Made possible through our record R&D spend delivered by our modern Industrial Strategy, the investment will support researchers to develop solutions and opportunities for UK researchers and businesses."

The HBBE will develop new microbial technologies which will act as a metabolism, processing a building's waste and generating energy. The hub will create living materials, using microbes, and investigate how health environments can be developed by better understanding the way the microbiome of the built environment and humans interact.

The new hub will include The OME, an experimental biological house, which will be built on Newcastle University's campus. A living lab, the OME will be used as an experimental facility to test and showcase the hub's ground-breaking research.

The HBBE will also comprise a Micro-Design Lab, based at Northumbria University and a Macro Bio-Design Lab at Newcastle University, which will allow the team to develop new technologies from molecules up to buildings.

The HBBE will officially launch on the 1 August 2019. It is currently recruiting 22 new staff and will be led by a multi-disciplinary team across both universities; Dr Martyn Dade-Robertson (NCL), Professor Rachel Armstrong (NCL), Professor Gary Black (NU), Dr Ben Bridgens (NCL), Dr Meng Zhang (NU) and Dr Darren Smith (NU).

HBBE Factsheet 

This article was originally published by CIAT.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has launched a new version of Find an Architect, the free interactive match-making service for clients looking to hire an architect.

The new platform makes it easier than ever for clients to find the right architect for their project. Developed as a result of in-depth client testing, it automatically creates a tailored shortlist of RIBA-accredited Chartered Practices based on the client’s brief.

Once a shortlist has been created, the service sends automated emails to the selected practices asking whether they are interested in the project, before allowing the client to get in touch directly. 

Chartered Practices can update their profiles with new projects as regularly as they like, allowing them to showcase their best work and attract the right type of client and project. 

RIBA Chartered Practices are being encouraged to keep their profiles up to date, which will greatly improve their chances of being matched with potential clients. Practices with the most projects that match the client’s brief will appear at the top of the list. 

How does it work? 

  • The client creates a short brief by selecting their project type, planning authority, maximum budget and any special requirements. 
  • Their choices are matched against the information provided on a practice’s profile.
  • The system automatically creates a shortlist, limited to a maximum of 15 practices. 
  • Shortlisted practices will receive an automated email from containing the project details and will have seven working days to express an interest. 
  • The client receives a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response immediately, allowing them to finalise their shortlist and get in touch with the practices with the initial brief already in place. 

Find an Architect receives over 60,000 visits a month and is one of several exclusive benefits of RIBA Chartered Practice membership. 

If you want to know more about joining the RIBA Chartered Practice scheme, visit the webpage, email or call the team direct on +44 (0)207 307 3686.

Find out more about joining the RIBA chartered practice scheme.

This year's Serpentine Pavilion is described by its designer as a "hill made out of rocks".

Japanese designer Junya Ishigami has completed this year's Serpentine Pavilion, a structure he describes as a "hill made out of rocks". 

2019's version of the Serpentine Pavilion, located outside the Serpentine Gallery in London's Kensington Gardens, comprises a rugged, rocky canopy made out of 61 tonnes of Cumbrian slate.

The large mound of slate is held up by a slender steel structure, supported by a grid of 106 pin-ended columns that are arranged randomly to create a 'forest'.

Ishigami is the fourth Japanese designer to design a Serpentine Pavilion. Even more so than his predecessors, who include Toyo Ito, SANNA and Sou Fujimoto, a central focus of his work is making architecture that both celebrates and mimics the forms of the natural world. 

His aim was to to create a building that takes the common architectural feature of the slate roof and show how it can be made to look like something found in the wild.

The pavilion is roughly triangular in plan. The corners extend down to touch the concrete ground surface below, which in turn slopes upwards to meet them. Inside, it is furnished with tables and stools also designed by Ishigami, to resemble lily pads.

Ishigami is the 19th designer to accept the invitation to design a temporary pavilion. His Serpentine Pavilion is open to the public from 21 June to 6 October. It will host a new programme of events through the summer before being sold and moved to a new home.

View images of the project.

This article was provided by CIAT