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Local Authority Bulletin - June 2019

Published: Wednesday, 26th June 2019

Improving the redaction on our planning application forms (England only), Draft legislation for planning application fees and developer contributions and more articles...


We are committed to assisting local planning authorities in achieving GDPR compliance. As part of this commitment, we recently reviewed the redactions we provide in the submissions we send to local authorities in England.

We found that our redaction provisions needed updating to provide consistent redaction across all our forms. We have been finalising the requirements for this work and we want to share the details of the upcoming changes with you.

Once the update goes live, the following details will be redacted across all application types (for England only):

  • All applicant and agent contact details (apart from name and postal address)
  • All question fields that specifically request third party names and contact details (apart from where this is a postal address)

Please note: Application downloads will still also contain a full unredacted version of the form. 

This means that for third party ownership information (e.g. certificates or tree ownership), the redacted version will only show postal addresses and not the names and other contact details associated with them.

As part of the update, we will also rename the current ‘ApplicationFormNoPersonalData’ file to ‘ApplicationFormRedacted’. We feel this name sets better expectations in regard to its content.

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

Of course, based on the policies of individual local authorities, further redactions may be required on application forms before they are published.

Additionally, there is always the possibility that applicants will enter personal information into areas where no redaction will be applied by us (e.g. the description of proposed works or details of any neighbourhood/community consultation).

Therefore, alongside these updated redaction provisions, we will also publish guidance on the redactions we make and on the responsibilities of all parties in the provision and transfer of data and its subsequent use.

The development of this work has progressed and although later than anticipated, this project is currently in the testing phase. We will provide a confirmed date of when you can expect to see these changes in due course.


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% 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.


We are looking to update our records and communication preferences to ensure that we keep your local authority up-to-date with relevant Planning Portal communications such as general updates on the service availability, service improvements, projects and future roadmap developments at both an operational and strategic level. 

To help us update our records please coordinate a response from your local authority by adding contact details to the form in the survey using the link below. 

Access the online survey 

Please ensure that the information you submit is accurate and correct and that you have told the other individual contacts and checked that they consent to their details being supplied.

If you cannot access the survey the information we require is shown below. For each contact we need to know if they would like to receive : 

  • the local authority monthly bulletin – this includes general Planning Portal updates and changes to policy, plus related planning and BCbuilding control articles of interest  
  • General Planning Portal Communications – as above and anyincluding some service improvements
  • Service improvements – any changes or improvements to existing services, plus updates on future roadmap plans 
  • Planning Portal event information – invitation and details of our annual authority events 

LPA contact sheet

All local authority contact information is securely stored in our CRM system and will be used solely for the purpose of sending information about the Planning Portal and will not be shared with any third parties.   We rely on this consent to process the personal data you give us to facilitate the Planning Portal services. You have the right to withdraw your consent at any time by contacting us at communications@planningportal.co.uk, and we will update our records immediately to reflect your wishes.

If you have any questions relating to this request please contact communciations@planningportal.co.uk          


In April and May the Planning Portal held a series of national events which focused on our payment service, combating invalid application delays, system improvements and company priorities for the year ahead. The events were organised to allow local authorities the opportunity to better understand the services we provide, to ask any questions they may have and to network with other local authorities in attendance. Below is a summary of what was discussed during the event.

Application Invalidation

At the event we talked about application invalidation and how we are working to improve this, but you can also help yourself in the short term by making sure your planning application requirements (PAR) are up to date.

Feedback from many local authorities highlighted missing documentation as a key reason for invalidation. On the supporting documents section of the online application service we highlight to applicants the need to check local validation checklists. On this page we have a facility to link to the local authority’s local PAR checklist.

If you haven’t done so recently, please send an up-to-date link to your PAR checklist to our Support team and we can publish the link on the page. You can email the link to: support@planningportal.co.uk.

Remember - to reduce invalid applications at your local authority, you should ensure that your planning application requirements, including your CIL requirements, are always configured and up to date on our 1APP system. You can find guidance on how to do that here.

Further information on the Financial Transaction Service

Earlier this year we communicated a six month report on the FTS and the benefits achieved by agents and local authorities. We are keen to ensure that all local authorities realise the benefits from its use and thought the following information would be useful to share.

Setting up the Planning Portal as a supplier with finance department for refunds

Many local authority finance departments  have set up the Planning Portal as a supplier in order to process refunds  so that they can quickly and easily refund us payments for applications.
In order to do this we have created a PDF document that provides our company details

We have also created a simple guide to explain the refund process and once we have the refunded fee and form (either yours or ours), we can then refund the agent or applicant quickly.
Read our refund guidance.

Can the Planning Portal retain application fees in order to make refunds?

Some local authorities asked if it was possible for the Planning Portal to retain application fee payments in order to make refunds on applications at a later date, rather than get the money back from authorities.

Whilst this seems a sensible approach, on discussing this with our finance team, unfortunately it is not possible. This is because the Planning Portal (PPQ Limited) operates a separate bank account and follows the rules of a client account.

A separate account from a separate bank is used for the Financial Transaction Service as opposed to the normal PPQ trading bank. Similar to rules operated by solicitors when handling client money, PPQ will not use one applicant’s money to pay for the services of another. Every single receipt will remain in the account until it is reconciled and paid over to the relevant authority.

The same procedure must apply for refunds, where only cleared funds from an authority can be returned to an applicant.

Planning Portal follow the regulations stated in the ICAEW Clients Money regulations 8A – issued in January 2017.

Agents guide to the Financial Transaction Service

A few local authorities mentioned it would be useful to understand the applicant user journey through the payment process now that all local authority payment information has been removed. The ‘agents’ walk-through guide’ provides screenshots of the process along with the supporting content:  Read the agents walk-through guide.
 
Agent forums

With many new products now available, we would welcome the opportunity to attend any agent forums you may be hosting. This will enable us to discuss our solutions to help both you and agents with submitting valid planning and building control applications.

In addition to assisting at agent forums, we would also welcome the opportunity to discuss support for you in terms of digitisation on planning and building control records, data migration or other related industry services.

Please let us know if we can help in any way and we will be in contact.

If you would like any further information or to see the slides from the event, please email our team via communications@planningportal.co.uk and we will be happy to forward them to you.


Last Thursday (6 June) the government announced its plans for regulatory and legislative changes to implement the Hackitt Review. These proposals are being consulted on and will have far reaching implications for all of local government – not just building control.

The consultation is scheduled to end on 31 July and the documents can be downloaded here.

LABC is holding a series of events across England for building control staff and others in local government including elected members, directors and senior managers. These briefings will allow LABC members and wider local government decision makers to understand more about the government proposals and help LABC prepare its formal response to government.

The briefings will be hosted by either Lorna Stimpson, LABC Deputy Chief Executive or Martin Taylor, LABC Director of Regulatory Policy. Both are working closely with MHCLG and sit on the Joint Regulators Group working with officials, fire and rescue services and the HSE.

Places are still available at six of the briefings (the others are fully booked) – times, dates and locations and the agenda can be found here.

Book your free place at a briefing


Anyone not living under a rock will have noticed the increase in public concern about climate change expressed by schoolchildren on strike, Extinction Rebellion’s high-profile actions, the passing of climate emergency resolutions by local councils, or Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg speaking truth to power.

All are bottom-up demands for greater national ambition. Several factors have provoked this. One is the lack of any meaningful climate action by global leaders. Another is extreme weather events, from wildfires in Australia to flooding in the US and India. David Attenborough’s intervention has helped, too.

On 1 May, Parliament responded by adopting a UK-wide climate emergency. And in its report the following morning, the Committee on Climate Change recommended that our existing commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 be upgraded to full carbon neutrality.

The truth is, though, that the government needs all the help it can get to make this happen, as we aren’t even on track with our current carbon reduction targets.

“Most of the technical solutions to tackling the climate crisis are already here”

What can the planning system do? The TCPA and RTPI talk persuasively about the role local plans can play in adapting to and mitigating climate change, and the need to achieve carbon reductions in line with the Climate Change

Act – an existing legal requirement that would have far-reaching effects if only it were enforced.

But I believe that there’s also a critical role for neighbourhood plans. After all, does it make sense to develop five-year neighbourhood plans that don’t take into account an existential threat that needs to be solved within the next 10? What use is a plan that tacitly assumes that everything can go on unchanged?  

Most of the technical solutions to tackling the climate crisis are already here. What’s lacking is the political will to apply them, not least because now that we’ve picked off the low-hanging fruit, the radical changes that lie ahead require the informed consent of the public.  

Neighbourhood planning is a chance to nurture this consent: a rare moment when a local community gets together to talk about the future. So let’s encourage them to plan for the range of futures that might be ahead of them. Let’s use the opportunity to normalise and localise discussions of climate change that are mostly so removed from daily experience, thereby expanding the space within which politicians can safely work, and providing some of the answers to the question “what now?”  

Daniel Stone MRTPI manages the Centre for Sustainable Energy’s Low Carbon Neighbourhood Planning Programme

This is an abridged version of an article first published on the CSE website, republished by The Planner.  


Have you ever considered how much time and money your local authority spends trying to manage your documentation? Do you have all your historic records still stored in an office or warehouse taking up valuable asset space, and have a priority to digitise and dispose of them?  

TerraQuest (www.terraquest.co.uk) is a leading digital archive organisation in the UK with strong expertise in delivering document management and data capture services including scanning, indexing, storage, disposal and retrieval services to public and private clients to exacting standards.

As a programme partner to HM Land Registry we digitise and migrate the information found in local land charges registers to one accessible place. TerraQuest’s Document Digitisation & Archiving Service includes:

  • Document capture through scanning, both microfiche & paper 
  • Optical character recognition to reduce the need for entry of data into systems
  • Capture of text attributes and plot spatial extents for input into GIS
  • Document indexing
  • Archival storage
  • State of the art storage facility
  • Database development
  • Customised document management system
  • Data transformation and migration
  • Confidential disposal (off-site shredding)

The key benefits of digitisation are to improve the efficiency of core business processes including, but not limited to:

  • Save time, asset space & money
  • Delivering value through improving accessibility to information
  • Reduce storage and resource retrieval cost
  • Drive efficiency
  • Improved data security and compliance with clear audit trails
  • State of the art storage facility
  • Secure document retention
  • Fast retrieval
  • Creating one source record for each document/item of data

To find out more about our comprehensive document digitisation & archiving services, please contact:

Tel: (0)121 234 1300
Email: information@terraquest.co.uk