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Local Authority Bulletin - May 2021

Published: Tuesday, 25th May 2021

Features: Planning Portal Service Desk – working to support customers through the application process

At the Planning Portal, we aim to provide all our customers and the organisations we work with the best service, help and advice we can. An integral part of the Planning Portal is our dedicated service desk and the work that they do to support clients – both homeowners and professionals – in the submission of their planning applications. The team offers technical support and they work to answer questions about making online applications via the Planning Portal service as well as about its guidance and content. This includes helping with resetting email addresses and logging in, to navigating around the application service and completing online applications efficiently and effectively.

Alongside supporting applicants through the application process, the service desk offers help and advice for a number of other services including the Planning Portal Payment Service, ReQuestaPlan, Building Control applications, Planning Applications Wales and the RTPI Directory.

Every month, the service desk receives a very high number of calls from users asking if they need planning permission (often after speaking to their Local Authority). When a user calls, the service desk team can only sign post users to our online content which shows general guidance. Our service desk staff cannot offer specific planning advice as we are technical support for the website only and simply do not have the required knowledge.

In addition to this, recently, we have seen an upsurge in the number of calls the service desk receives about applications that have been submitted and received by Local Authorities. Unfortunately, the team cannot give specific planning or building advice, provide the status of a planning application that has been submitted to a Local Authority, or advise what form should be used for a planning application (although we do direct them to our online form chooser for assistance with this). These are queries Local Authorities can help with.

Whilst we are aware that planning departments are under increasing pressure due to the high increase in submissions, we are asking for all Local Authorities to support their customer service teams in directing queries about application status and submission to their relevant planning departments. If an application does not appear in the authority’s back-office system, we would advise to check the Local Authority’s Planning Portal administration account first to eliminate any issue with connector download, before directing applicants back to the Planning Portal service desk.

This will firstly provide a better experience to the customer, creating less frustration and upset about being told to recontact their Local Planning Authority, but it will also allow our service desk to handle queries related to the application process and other services to support your departments.

If you have any queries about any of the above or how we can help, please email communications@planningportal.co.uk and we will be in touch.

Thank you for your ongoing support.