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Architectural bulletin - May 2020

Published: Friday, 29th May 2020

Features: An important change to our planning application service… And why transferring applications as data, not documents, is important to everyone, Free PlanTalk webinar - Book your place

We’ve made some important changes to our planning application service last week (22 May), as part of an ongoing programme of investment and improvement. 

From 23 May you may have noticed some changes to forms, but some important changes were also made behind the scenes. 

When planning applications are submitted from our online service, the raw data entered into the forms is already transferred to Local Planning Authorities (LPAs), along with PDF copies of the forms. The structure of the data is published as a ‘data schema’ (or common data standard) which allows the Local Authorities’ IT providers to identify the correct data and place it into the correct place in their systems.

Last week we released a new version of this data standard.  We’ve also been working with LPAs and their IT providers to make sure that as much of this raw data as possible can flow into their systems, and ultimately into public access planning registers and elsewhere to make the planning process easier for everyone. This is part of our longer-term ambitions, shared last month, and we’ll continue to share more on how we’re working towards it in the coming weeks and months.

In the short-term however, the release last week means agents/applicants will see:

  • Residential Units – Updated question to meet current government specifications on dwelling categories and types (including Self-Build). This also removes the manual workaround that had to be implemented previously.
  • Title/Salutation fields – These now allow any title(s) to be entered as required, following best practice.
  • Multiple ‘Other’ items can now be added – Where previously, ‘Other’ items in tables were limited to a single entry, it is now possible to add as many as required (e.g. where specifying all the materials to be used)
  • Primary contact details – All applications must now contain an Applicant or Agent phone number and email address. This ensures that Local Authorities have sufficient contact details when issues need to be resolved.
  • Review of optional/mandatory fields – All questions have had their optional/mandatory settings reviewed to ensure that, where relevant, information is provided. This will help ensure that applications are complete and valid at the point of submission.

In addition to the updated data above, the release also enables LPAs to automate the download of the new Prior Approvals forms, which were made available to agents and applicants late last year. 

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