Published: Monday, 30th September 2019
Improvements to the 1APP online application service, Exhibitors, Speakers and Sponsors Announced for Planning Portal Conference 2019, Looking back at the application payment service: one year on
We are currently working to update and enhance the services utilised by Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) in England, via the Planning Portal website.
This includes the addition of 16 Prior Approval application types to the 1APP online application service, the fixing of data issues, and multiple improvements to the questions already in use on the service.
These enhancements and fixes have been made in response to LPA and other user feedback, and the development has been made possible from the revenue generated from the Financial Transaction Service (FTS).
Whilst there is presently no set date for the launch of this work, development is currently underway and a timetable with further information will be communicated as soon as possible.
This will include the opportunity for the improvements to be reviewed on our ‘release’ site, prior to them being made live for general use.
Enabling Prior Approval applications for online submission
Enabling the online submission of the prior approval forms via the Planning Portal, rather than as blank PDF forms, will save agents, applicants and LPAs time and effort, creating a more streamlined submission process.
Initially they will only be available to download from your LPA application account as we develop the 1APP schema to fully integrate them into the back-office systems via the 1APP connectors.
Questions, supporting documents and fees for each prior approval type will be based on their individual legislative requirements. Specific LPA Planning Application Requirements (PAR) configuration options will also be available.
A new ‘Eligibility’ question for each type will help ensure that submitted applications meet the pre-requisites for Prior Approval as specified in the legislation. This is designed to reduce invalid/ineligible submissions by informing applicants if their proposals are not suitable for Prior Approval before they complete and submit the application.
Payments will be taken through the FTS, realising the benefits that have already been demonstrated for existing application types and helping us to generate revenue to drive continued improvement and innovation.
There will also be content and guidance to support agents and applicants in determining when a Prior Approval submission is relevant and required; and which provide details on how to submit a valid Prior Approval application.
As with the existing application types, blank PDF forms will continue to be provided for those who wish to submit on paper.
Improving existing question sets
Changes to existing questions on the service include the updating of residential categories and use classes to ensure the correct data is captured, fixing an issue which has been prevalent for some time and superseding the manual workaround process currently in place.
Issues with the optional/mandatory settings for individual question fields and the related question logic will also be resolved in numerous areas.
Most significantly, this will ensure that sufficient applicant or agent contact information is always collected, allowing LPAs to make contact by email or over the phone as required.
Elsewhere, there will be less fields marked as ‘optional’ by default - with the user instead being asked if the question is relevant to their proposal, and having to provide information if it is; and better calls to action, including improved error messaging, where information is required.
Other notable updates include: the ‘Hazardous Substances’ question being brought more in line with the information requirements defined in the Government’s national application templates; and Certificate B being able to account for Agricultural Holdings where there are no other owners or tenants.
More detail on the individual changes to question sets will be made available in due course.
Supporting the Greater London Authority planning application requirements
We are working with the Greater London Authority (GLA) on additional question sets and schema fields to allow LPAs in London to mandate provision of extra information on certain types of application. This is to better inform their decision making and to allow the additional information to be passed into the next iteration of the London Development Database.
Going forward, LPAs outside London will also be able to opt-in if they deem such information beneficial and necessary.
Introducing the next version of the Planning Portal ‘schema’
When applications are submitted, all the information from the form as well as details of the fees, supporting documents and amendment status are included in a data file that allows this information to be populated directly into local authority systems.
The structure and standards of this data file (and each bit of information within it) are controlled by a master template known as a ‘schema’.
In early August all the suppliers of local authority back-office planning systems were sent full details of the next version of the schema. This will allow them to make your systems ready for the online Prior Approval applications, improvements in the existing question sets, and new questions mandated by the GLA (see relevant sections above).
It will also include the user entered descriptions for supporting documents (where provided) that are currently only shown in the attachment summary PDF; and will remove incorrectly populated information in regard to applicant/agent contact preferences and supporting document print status and paper sizing.
We would recommend contacting your back-office system provider to understand when they will be ready for your system to utilise the new version of the schema and allow you to realise the benefits it offers.
The Planning Portal are delighted to be hosting our first annual Planning Portal Conference on 14-15 November 2019, at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.
The event will give senior delegates from planning consultancies, architectural practices, larger builders and developers, and key contacts from local and central government the chance to meet and network.
Pertinent topics affecting planning and building will be discussed throughout the Conference, starting with Sarah Chilcott, Managing Director of the Planning Portal, sharing key insights into Planning Portal application market trends and data, followed by a panel discussion on ‘What will impact the planning and construction industry in the coming years?’
On Thursday afternoon Chief Digital Officer of the Greater London Authority, Theo Blackwell will be speaking about GIS and Open Planning Data, followed by a panel discussion hosted by Kevin Crawford MCIAT, VP of Technical at CIAT, which will be exploring the role of technology in planning. Mr Crawford will be joined by Fanis Anastasiadis, Chartered Architect at Urbanist Architecture, and AUTODESK, as they discuss how technology affects planning, both now and into the years to come.
Friday will begin with Deputy Chief Executive of LABC, Lorna Stimpson addressing the subject ‘Grenfell Changes Everything – Designing Building Safety into Planning’. This will cover future policy and regulation from the Hackitt Review, including the government’s intentions to incorporate a series of 'gateway points' into its planned building safety regime for high-rise buildings in England. Lorna will discuss the implications the Review will have on the planning process, including requirements for a demonstration of compliance at set points during design, planning and construction of the building.
Lorna will also be taking part in a panel discussion, moderated by Angus Law, BRE Lecturer in Fire Safety Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, covering ‘What will the Building Safety Programme mean for planning?’ They will be joined by key speakers from ACAI, RIBA and Manchester City Council.
Friday afternoon will begin with an opening keynote from Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of RTPI, on the topic of Granting Permissions or Delivering Housing. This will be followed by Mears Business Development Managers Sian Davenport and Eve Cleghorn addressing the subject ‘Different models of housing delivery’, before ending with a panel discussion on ‘What does the drive to build more houses mean for planning?’
Exhibitors attending include gold sponsor Esri UK, silver sponsors Urbanist Architecture, Objective Corporation, AUTODESK and exhibitors Built Environment Communications Group (BECG), ReQuestaPlan, Francis Taylor Building and NatureSpace Partnership.
The conference is also supported by the Planning Portal’s strategic partners who include CIAT, LABC, RIBA, RTPI.
There will be a drinks reception and gala dinner on the evening of 14 November, giving attendees the chance to network by meeting other speakers, delegates, partners and press in a glamourous, relaxed, social environment.
A limited number of early bird tickets are available until 11 October; book now to make sure that you are not disappointed. To find out more about the conference, please visit our conference website
In September 2018 the Planning Portal launched our application payment service, the Financial Transaction Service (FTS), streamlining the planning application process for applicants, agents and Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) by ensuring applications are only released to the relevant local authority once the correct fee has been obtained. One year on we look back at the service, its impact upon planning, the benefits it has realised and how the income generated has been invested to enabled further service improvements for applicants.
The greatest issue causing invalid applications before the launch of the FTS was due to applicants or agents submitting applications with an incorrect or missing fee, accounting for about 60 per cent of all rejected submissions. As the FTS joins the application with payment before it can be submitted, this problem is eradicated, creating a cohesive and efficient process that saves agents and local authorities time, money and effort in chasing up application fees.
Due to a set of standardised payment options applicants choosing to complete their application payments online have increased drastically, resulting in a substantial decrease in offline payment submissions, including via cheque. This has saved local authorities an estimated £46,000 in banking fees, as the bank charges they need to pay have reduced so significantly.
As part of this we have enhanced our nominate payment service (previously Payment ReDirect) which allows applicants or agents to nominate another party to pay the application fee. Agents can nominate their clients directly, so they no-longer need to chase them for payment, shifting payment responsibility to them. It also means larger consultancies can forward payment requests to their finance department, saving time, money and effort. Nominate now accounts for 42 per cent of payments received for submitted applications.
The changes delivered all cost money to run, meaning we have had to add a service charge per application. The income received has allowed us to invest in the FTS and other services and resources for our applicants. Improvements include an increase in file attachment size to 10MB, the ability to access draft forms, clearer content to aid in the user journey, and greater redactions to application forms to help all parties satisfy their GDPR responsibilities.
Following feedback from applicants and agents we have made further improvements to the nominate option. Agents can now include information in the nomination email to clients who can select their preferred payment method. We recommend that fees under £1,000 are paid online but based upon their selected method they will now receive improved reminder notifications to encourage prompt payment. See an updated guide to the process here.
Additionally, we are currently working to make the 16 prior approval forms available to complete and submit online. These are currently available as offline forms, meaning the update will remove the current workaround and simplify the submission process significantly. We hope the change will be in place later this year!
A further project with the Greater London Authority (GLA) is also underway to provide extra information on applications to London Boroughs, improving decisions taken and supplying data to the London Development Database. The scheme is not restrictive to London and offers the opportunity for other local authorities to take part.
In its first year the FTS has processed in excess of £270M in planning fees to realise direct benefits to all involved.
User feedback is fundamental in ensuring we can constantly implement improvements to our services, further helping to simplify the planning process for all involved. If you have any feedback or comments on the FTS, Nominate or the Planning Portal in general please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thousands of residents will benefit from safer homes under proposals that would see sprinklers installed in new high-rise blocks of flats, the government announced today (5 September 2019).
The proposals are an important step forward in the government’s commitment to ensuring residents are safe in their homes.
The government is consulting on reducing the building height for when sprinklers are required from the current 30 metres (approximately 10 floors) and above to 18 metres (approximately 6 floors) or other relevant thresholds.
And a new Protection Board is being set-up immediately with the Home Office and National Fire Chiefs Council to provide further reassurance to residents of high-risk residential blocks that any risks are identified and acted upon.
The Communities Secretary has made up to £10 million a year of funding available to support the Board who will provide expert, tailored building checks and inspections, if necessary, on all high-risk residential buildings in England by 2021.
The Board will operate until a new building safety regulator is established to oversee the new regulatory regime for buildings and legislation on a new building safety regime is introduced.
Their work will ensure building owners are acting on the latest safety advice and keeping residents updated and that interim measures are in place in all buildings with unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding.
This work will be informed by current data collection work of local authorities to identify types of cladding on high-rise residential buildings, for which government is providing an additional £4 million funding.
As of 12 September, the government is opening the application process for the £200 million fund to accelerate the pace of the removal and replacement of unsafe ACM from privately-owned buildings.
The Secretary of State for Housing, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
"Residents’ safety is our utmost priority and we are making vital improvements to ensure buildings are safe.
I have listened to concerns on sprinklers from residents and building owners and our proposals are an important step forward in shaping the future building safety standards.
The new Protection Board will make sure building owners don’t flout the rules, as well as ensuring fire safety risks in other buildings are being addressed".
Speaking on the £200 million of funding for private building owners to remove unsafe cladding the Secretary of State said:
"Government funds are available for private building owners to remove and replace unsafe ACM cladding, and let me be clear, inaction will have consequences and I will name and shame those who do not act during the course of the autumn.
There is no excuse for further delay – and for building owners to fail to take action now would be frankly disgraceful".
The 12-week fire safety consultation on sprinklers and other measures forms part of the first proposed changes to building regulations in England covering fire safety within and around buildings.
It also seeks views to introduce an emergency evacuation alert system for use by fire and rescue services, alongside other fire safety measures.
Building Safety Minister Lord Younger said:
"I’m determined to ensure buildings across the country are safe for residents and the opening of our private sector fund and commitment to new building safety legislation is an important step in driving that forward.
This government is acting and I’m calling on all building owners and developers to step up and make any changes needed to ensure their buildings are safe".
Approved Document B consultation
In December 2018, the government issued a call for evidence on the technical review of Approved Document B of the building regulations. A summary of the responses to the call for evidence has been published alongside this consultation.
See details of the consultation. This consultation will run from 5 September 2019 to 28 November 2019.
You may respond by completing an online survey. Alternatively, you can email your response to the questions in this consultation to ADBconsultation@communities.gov.uk.
Written responses should be sent to:
Building Safety Programme
Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
Alongside the government's investigations and advice regarding aluminium composite material (ACM) panels there has been ongoing research and testing of non-ACM cladding systems when subjected to fire. The Building Research Establishment (BRE) has been commissioned to carry out the testing programme and this is expected to conclude this summer.
Following advice from MHCLG's Independent Expert Advisory Panel, the government commissioned a large-scale test on an HPL panel system, which was carried out by the Fire Protection Association on 11 July 2019. Subsequently, Advice Note 22 was issued on 18 July 2019.
A system composed of HPL panels with fire retardant (Class B-s1, d0) together with stone wool insulation was tested in accordance with BS 8414 and achieved a BR 135 classification. See the Customer Classification Report.
It's important to note that although this HPL system achieved the necessary performance criteria, and could be safe on existing buildings, the safety of this system, as with any other cladding system, is dependent on its fitting.
The Expert Panel also stresses that HPL panels with a European classification of Class C or D, and cladding systems comprising HPL panels of any classification when used in combination with combustible insulation are very unlikely to adequately resist the spread of fire. Building owners with these types of HPL cladding systems should take immediate action in line with MHCLG Advice Note 14.
Information on the type of cladding used on a building may be found on as-built drawings, in the Operation and Maintenance manual, or in the package of fire safety information issued in line with Regulation 38.
Building owners may also wish to confirm that their buildings have not been made unsafe through material substitutions during construction or later alterations, this may require material testing which should be carried out by a UKAS-accredited laboratory.
We regularly bring you a range of articles that focus on various sections of the Planning Portal, drawing attention to the handy tools and resources on different areas of our site. We hope you find these articles helpful and appreciate any feedback.
This month, we review our section devoted to supporting local authorities.
We have developed excellent partnerships with local authorities to change the culture of planning and provide accessible, open and transparent online planning services to citizens and professionals.
The local authority section of the Planning Portal offers practical information and resources to support local authorities working with us as well as notices of change and links to ways we can communicate.
From the local authority hub, you can sign in to download applications and administer planning attachment requirements. This route into 1App allows you to make sure you don’t miss any important updates that we may post here. These include:
- Recommendations for local authority website
- Application validation services
- Environment agency guidance
- Forms for all consent types
- How to sign up for our building control application service
- Best practice guidance
- Find out how to connect with us on the Knowledge Hub
We have also partnered with the RTPI’s The Planner Jobs which can be accessed from the local authority hub. The job feed on the Planning Portal is updated daily and includes public and private sector roles in the town planning, regeneration and conservation sectors.