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Local Authority bulletin - April 2020

Published: Wednesday, 29th April 2020

Updates to 1App and launch of a new data standard, March 2020 – Planning application market insight, Time-limited permitted development right comes into force. And more articles...


We are pleased to announce that following extensive development at the Planning Portal we will be introducing many 1App application system improvements during May 2020, completing work that started with the introduction of Prior Approvals in England last year.

These changes have been requested by local authorities and applicants for some time and are in the final stages of testing prior to being implemented. They can be separated into two main parts:

  • Question set updates - A wide range of updates across the question sets to improve compliance with government standards and validity of applications. This includes the updates to the English residential housing categories and dwelling types and removal of the current workaround. View full details of the question set updates
  • 1App data standard update - The rollout of the latest version (v2.0) of our 1App data standard (schema) to all application types including Prior Approvals.

How does my authority get these improvements?

To benefit from the additional and updated information in the latest version of the 1App data standard (v2.0), your ‘1App connector’ (the software that requests and retrieves applications from the Planning Portal; and transfers the information into your systems) will need to be upgraded to ask for and process the latest version correctly.

We recommend contacting your IT supplier as soon as possible to understand when they will be ready for your system to utilise the latest version of the 1App data standard (v2.0) and allow you to realise the full benefits it offers.

We have tried to maximise the backwards compatibility of these improvements with the previous versions of the data standard that LPAs currently use to retrieve and process applications from us.

The changes have been communicated to all IT suppliers providing LPA back office systems who have had the chance to test this. Those that have done so have completed this successfully.

Interim processes for working with the improvements

View our guidance note detailing these processes as well as the application types and application form information that may require specific attention.

If your IT system does not support the latest version (v2.0), it may:

  • Not retrieve/process some types of applications or information at all.
  • Generate some records that are incomplete and/or inaccurate.

Where applications are not retrieved/processed, these will need to be downloaded manually.

For information within applications, manual reconciliation effort will be required. We recommend that this is achieved by cross-referencing against the PDF application form provided with each submission.

We will announce the go-live date ASAP. However, if you have any queries regarding the changes or how to work with the improvements, please contact our Support team support@planningportal.co.uk.


Approaching its 50th anniversary, TerraQuest is the UK's oldest and most experienced land referencing service company. TerraQuest is an Ordnance Survey business partner, is G-Cloud accredited and custodian of the national Planning Portal since 2015.

What we offer our clients

The land referencing service researches landowners and occupiers within a specified area proposed for development. The information gathered during the process results in the creation of schedules and land plans to support statutory procedures including Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) and Development Consent Order (DCO) for schemes of national significance. Other legal regimes supported by the process include Transport and Works Act and Town and Country Planning Act Orders in connection with transport, energy, regeneration, utilities and other development projects.

With a reputation built on collaboration, innovation, best practise and its people, TerraQuest is a trusted organisation as proven by the high number of repeat clients and referrals. We offer:

  • Innovative approach to land referencing
    Continuous development of automated processes to replace manual asks and procedures.
  • Comprehensive service
    Bespoke solution to each phase of the consenting process including site access to the acquisition of land.
  • Best practice in land information management to support CPOs
    Collaborative approach to managing financial risk through real-time reporting from the property cost estimate based on accurate land referencing data.
  • Ongoing development of land referencing platform
    Capitalise on new opportunities through the availability of new data sources and technology to support core business activities and develop links to complementary solutions supporting compulsory purchase.
  • Collaboration through appropriate use of technology
    Using web services to deliver key information and key outputs to project Stakeholders from one central source.

What our clients say

Project: DCO projects both approx. 20kms in length, traversing urban and rural terrain working collaboratively with stakeholders including land agents, environmentalist and lawyers.

“TerraQuest has worked with Scottish Power on two DCOs, both of which are long linear schemes. Daniel Cook has led the lands process from the start, diligently working through records to ensure our statutory consultation was robust. In addition, the TerraQuest team compiled the Book of Reference, feeding into the Statement of Reasons and produced both Land and Works Plans”.

Steven Edwards. Project Manager, Scottish Power - Grid Connections

Project: Cross London Railway which will extend from Reading in the West to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the East.  TerraQuest delivered a comprehensive land referencing service including safeguarding through to acquisition and land registration.

“I wish to thank the TerraQuest team for the hard work and expertise that have gone to making Crossrail’s acquisition programme a success. You can be justifiably proud of what you have achieved.” 

Ian Lindsay, Land & Property Director, Crossrail

Project: TerraQuest has worked with Pinsent Masons on schemes covering many sectors including Energy, Utility, Roads and Regeneration.

‘Pinsent Masons have worked closely with TerraQuest on land referencing, title examination, compulsory purchase orders … and related activities. The team is extremely professional, knowledgeable and experienced and demonstrated an ability to work flexibly and efficiently in a demanding multi-disciplinary team environment.”

Richard Foster, Senior Consultant, Pinsent Masons – CPOs

Our Processes and Experience

Our processes are ISO certified including ISO 27001 to address ongoing concerns regarding the secure storage of personal data. TerraQuest undertakes schemes both large and small projects as testified by its involvement in many of the UK's major infrastructure projects. These include;

  • HS2
  • Crossrail
  • Heathrow
  • EDF Hinkley Point C
  • Scottish Power transmission lines
  • Highways England road schemes
  • National Grid
  • TfL Station upgrades
  • Birmingham Commonwealth Games
  • Local Authority regeneration schemes.

TerraQuest is active across the UK and currently supports projects in the north in Durham, the south in Devon, Wales and the South East. In Northern Ireland TerraQuest currently has a team of over 60 involved in land referencing and land registration, the latter on behalf of the Land and Property Services Northern Ireland.

The TerraQuest System

TerraQuest manages all referencing information within its proprietary Land Acquisition and Recording System (LARS) which links to features such as:

  • Land Parcels
  • Interests
  • Parties
  • Addresses
  • Titles
  • Site Reference

LARS is a geospatial solution enabling spatial data to be fully integrated with database records and electronic documents. The spatial extents of each Land Parcel and Title are digitised in LARS which maintains all links between each data type. Land parcel areas are automatically calculated from the spatial extents, and the database attributed accordingly. This data is made available to all stakeholders through a project portal to ensure all are viewing the same single source of information.

Overview of LARS System

LARS

To find out more on how TerraQuest can support your regeneration programme please contact:

John Bebb (07841 995098 John.Bebb@terraquest.co.uk)

Julius Rwegasira (07595 888291 Julius.Rwegasira@terraquest.co.uk)


Since the introduction of our building control application service in 2016, over 70 per cent of local authorities have signed up to receive building control applications via the Planning Portal.

Much like the process for planning applications, local authorities require their IT supplier to develop integration with the back-office system to allow applications to be retrieved from the Planning Portal. Until recently this has not been possible for local authorities using Idox’s Uniform system.

Last month we set out the details of how we have been assisting Idox in their development to ensure that they can accept building control applications and supporting documents from the Planning Portal straight into their Uniform system.

This is a significant development which will see those local authorities using Uniform have the ability to digitally streamline how their building control applications are received and processed, increasing efficiency and reducing paper waste and manual intervention.

The integration is now up and running, so if your local authority building control department are interested, please contact your Idox account manager for further details.

If you use an alternative IT supplier, integration is also available from Ocella, DEF Software and Arcus Global.

If you are not signed up to receive building control applications or you’d like to learn more about increasing online submission, please get in touch with our Business Development Team to find out more.

Contact us

Scott Alford 
Email scott.alford@planningportal.co.uk or call 07771 566973

Ian Foster
Email ian.foster@planningportal.co.uk or call 07785 518797


Recent events have forced a lot of businesses to consider how having access to digital records and data enables normal operations to continue in unforeseen circumstances. We have seen a huge increase in the need to access data remotely, especially with the COVID-19 virus and staff working from home.

Have you ever considered how much time and effort your local authority spends trying to manage your records and documentation? Do you have instant access to all your records via your well indexed operating systems or are they in an electronic format which are kept locally on IT systems or perhaps stored as paper in an office or warehouse taking up valuable asset space. Having data correctly digitised, indexed and ingested in operating systems and applications allows your operation to run smoothly and efficiently at the best of times but also provides access and continuity in the worst of times.

TerraQuest’s experience & expertise

TerraQuest Solutions is a leading digital data organisation in the UK with strong expertise in delivering document management and data capture services including data cleansing, migrating and transformation; scanning, indexing, digitisation, storage, disposal and retrieval services to public and private clients to exacting standards.

TerraQuest has vast experience of working with local authority planning, land charges and building control teams in the preparation and digitisation of records into existing systems, and also the migration of records, data and applications into new systems to enable digital working. The migration of data is often seen as a significant barrier for project teams, and TerraQuest can provide advice and assistance on making the step to that digital space smooth and simple, removing the burden for you. One of the leading projects we have been involved in recently is helping local authorities move land charges data from paper and hybrid formats (a mixture of paper and electronic data) to the Land Registry LLC Register by creating digital data and then transforming it.

We are uniquely placed to understand what the requirements, pressures and complexities are when working with other departments of government in preparing and capturing data for the purposes of transformation. There is now a huge effort in government to get all local authorities converted to easily accessible, up to date digital data.

TerraQuest can ensure that your data is transformed in the most efficient ways possible. Using our own knowledge built up over many years working independently for local authorities, now coupled with the Land Registry process and the technical solutions we have further developed for digitisation; we will minimise the load on your already stretched teams and ensure your data is ready when the need is required.

We have a professional team of highly skilled technicians that are well versed in processing both physical and electronic documents through all or part of the lifecycle to meet client expectations. More recent projects include the capture, analysis and transformation of local land charge data for six local authorities as HMLR’s one digitisation partner of choice. Over time we have developed a highly efficient solution that has streamlined our work in this field and allowed us to firm up our place as one of the leading experts on Local Land Charges.

TerraQuest’s document digitisation and archiving service

We prepare and create digital data; manage, migrate and transform existing digital data. Our services include:

  • 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 cleansing
  • Data transformation and migration
  • Confidential disposal (off-site shredding)
  • Data and system security

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

  • Increase accessibility
  • Enhance data quality
  • Make better use or one’s own data and compliment with additional data sets to further enhance
  • Drive efficiency
  • Improved data security and compliance with clear audit trails
  • Save time and effort whilst reducing cost
  • Delivering value through improving information
  • State of the art storage facility
  • Secure document retention
  • Fast retrieval
  • Reduce storage and resource retrieval cost

Resources

With over 20 years’ experience inside and outside local government, Geoff Evans heads the delivery team as TerraQuest’s Delivery Manager. He will be on hand throughout the digitisation process to ensure the transition is a smooth and successful experience.

Keith Parker is one of our planning, building control and local land charges experts. His extensive knowledge in Land Charges combined with digital transformation provides insight into many of the problems that you may experience in the transition to a Digital Register.

The data team management is complimented by two further experts, Rob Coleman and Kath Moylan. Rob is our digital transformation programme manager and is responsible for helping you plan and execute the work. Working closely with you and your staff, building relationships, Rob will provide the knowledge of what to expect, having run the 6 previous LLC digitisations projects. Kath specialises in understanding your data, how it’s made up and will work with you to provide a set of instructions and rules to accurately prepare the data for digitisation.

The TerraQuest Local Land Charge teams’ experience will help to put you and your data in the best possible place for the future load into the HM Land Registry Local Land Charges Register. Working with us, will ensure that your data is ready for when that opportunity arises.

G-Cloud framework

TerraQuest is a registered G-Cloud supplier for these services, we must meet high standards of security and compliance to be an approved supplier on this framework.

To find out more about our comprehensive document digitisation & digital archiving services, please call us: (0)121 234 1300 or email: information@terraquest.co.uk