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Local Authority bulletin - May 2020

Published: Friday, 29th May 2020

Features: 1App schema now live, Free PlanTalk webinar - Book your place, Reduce application backlogs and increase productivity with TerraQuest’s validation service.

We are pleased to announce that following extensive development, the planned improvements to the 1App application system are now live, this completes 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 were implemented on Friday 22nd May. 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.

In case you missed it in our recent updates, we have included the following details should you have any further questions.

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.

If you have any queries regarding the changes or how to work with the improvements, please contact our Support team

Date:                  Wednesday 10 June at 14:00 – 14:30
Format:              Webinar
Price:                  Free
Organiser:          RTPI London | Greater London Authority 

This session is bought to you by RTPI London and Greater London Authority as part of the #plantalk series being trialled during these uncertain times.

Planning Portal - How can we make the process of planning and building easier?

Scott Alford, Head of Business Development, Planning Portal.

Scott will update you on a brief summary of:

Who we are:

  • History
  • Current (including stats)
  • Principles: providing a quality service, putting the customer first, building successful partnerships
  • Our role in the process: access to accurate and authoritative information, and delivering quality upfront to improve application submission

Our objectives recently refreshed to guide a three-year programme of investment and development.

  1. Reducing invalidation
  • Issues in invalidation
  • Financial Transaction Service (FTS)
  • Future: Local level validation
  1. Technology innovation to simplify and join-up the process
  • Vision: pre-app to building completion, data linked across stages by unique identifier
  • We already pass data, not just documents to LPAs. We have a national data standard.
  • Future: APIs, interoperability of a variety of systems
  1. Making data accessible
  • MI report just launched: first report is available here.
  • APIs: GLA LDD already in progress, more to follow
  • Future: Content to help applicants make informed decisions


The format of the session will be a 15-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute Q&A.

A recording of this session will be available on the #plantalk You Tube channel shortly afterwards.


Peter Kemp – Greater London Authority (Host)
Scott Alford – Planning Portal

TerraQuest’s Planning Application Validation Service (PAVS) is designed to reduce the time and cost taken to register, process and approve planning applications while enhancing the applicant’s experience.

PAVS helps local planning authorities to successfully handle their increased workload, clear application backlogs and meet service level commitments by validating all types of electronic and paper planning applications. The service checks against national and local planning policies and directly uploads into the local authority back office system. An application can be received, validated and be on a case officers worklist within just 48 hours.

The complete service will:

  • Receive and register:
    • electronic applications submitted using the Planning Portal
    • paper applications that are sent directly to TerraQuest from the local authority
    • other electronic applications that are sent from the local authority to TerraQuest
  • Process all payments through the Planning Portal payment service
  • Validate all application types based on both national rules and local validation lists
  • Manage invalid applications working with agents and applicants
  • Manage incoming queries via email and phone

Some local authorities have chosen the service just for some application types, whilst others have chosen for the PAVS to validate all types of planning application they receive.

The successful delivery of the PAVS creates remarkable flexibility in planning departments and the service is tailored to suit the specific needs of each authority.

Here’s what two local authorities using the PAVS have to say about their experiences;

Arun District Council uses the TerraQuest PAVS to validate Householder and Advertisement Consents. We treat the service as an extension to our own validation team and it provides us with greater resilience especially during busy periods. The staff are very approachable, and we have been pleased with the service that has been provided to date.
Nicola Spencer, Arun District Council

We engaged with TerraQuest, initially on a short-term contract, at a time when we were short on resources and our validation performance was suffering. TerraQuest’s integration to our systems was seamless and they offered an affordable and high-quality service which we ended up using for an extended period. I’d recommend TerraQuest as a professional team who offer an excellent service.
Drew Powell, South West Devon Partnership (South Hams District Council & West Devon Borough Council)

Benefits of using TerraQuest planning application validation services

  • 48-hour service level agreement with 98 per cent of applications processed within 24 hours
  • Manage peak workload demand
  • Consistency in validation decisions
  • Invalid application resolution
  • Enable case officer to focus on application evaluation  
  • Improve customer service experience through prompt contact

Find out more

For a free consultation, please contact the TerraQuest team via email or call 0121 234 1300 and find out why many local planning authorities are benefitting from our service.