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Local Authority Bulletin - October 2020

Published: Tuesday, 27th October 2020

Features: TerraQuest is helping Local Planning Authorities hit targets and reduce the increased pressures on their Planning teams

We are looking for Local Planning Authorities who would be interested in partnering with us to make an application to the Innovate UK Smart Grant Fund.

The application is to part-fund a project to explore and test how national and local planning policy and land designation data sets could be better used to improve certainty and efficiency in the planning process. This particularly relates to, but is not limited to, the validation of applications. The project would start in February 2021 and is planned to run for up to 20 months.

We are therefore looking for Local Planning Authorities in England with:

  • an active interest in collaborating with us to improve validation rates and the quality of application submissions
  • an openness to the notion of creating a common data standard to digitally accessible information (and maps), which would work locally and nationally
  • an adopted local plan
  • a willingness to innovate and test new approaches
  • recent experience in digitising your local plan or a collaborative planning GIS spatial project.

Any Local Planning Authorities joining the project would need to commit time and resources, but are able to claim up to 100 per cent of eligible costs under the following conditions:

  • you are undertaking research (this may be experimental, theoretical or critical investigation work to gain knowledge, skills or understanding vital to the project)
  • you meet requirements for dissemination of the project’s results and you state in the application how this will be done
  • you include your eligible costs for research purposes in the total research organisation involvement
  • you make sure you are not applying for funding towards costs which are already being paid by the public purse, such as labour and overheads.

If you are interested in partnering with us, please contact and send over a brief summary. This summary needs to explain your current position in relation to this challenge, such as existing local data sets, problems identified, previous work, etc.

The deadline for expressing interest in this collaboration is 6 November 2020.  Final applications to Innovate UK need to be submitted by 25 November 2020.

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

PAVS helps Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) 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 LPA back office system. An application can be received, validated and be on a case officer’s worklist within 48 hours.

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

The successful delivery of PAVS creates remarkable flexibility in planning departments; the service is tailored to suit the specific needs of the authority and the technical validation meets both national and local guidelines.

"Arun District Council uses TerraQuest to validate Householder and Advertisement Consent. We treat th 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, Technical Support Manager (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."
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 processed within 24 hours
  • Manage peak workload demand
  • Consistency in validation decisions
  • Invalid application resolution
  • Enable case officers to focus on application evaluation  
  • Improve customer service experience through prompt contact

For a free consultation, please contact the TerraQuest team via email on or call 0121 234 1300; and find out why the London Borough of Hillingdon, Arun District Council, Dorset Council and other Local Planning Authorities are benefitting from the service.