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Local Authority Bulletin - July 2021

Published: Monday, 26th July 2021

Features: The Community Hub from the Planning Portal; Planning Portal changes on Friday 30 July 2021; Reducing paperwork through innovative solutions in land referencing

Planning Portal are pleased to announce the launch of the Planning Portal Community Hub, the online interactive platform providing year-round networking opportunities, industry insight and virtual events. You can register for your account here.

Using the latest technology, The Community Hub provides all users with industry-specific news from architects, planning consultants, developers, governing bodies and industry membership organisations, along with targeted networking opportunities tailored to your interests and areas of speciality.

Using integrated algorithms, the system works to pair you up with other delegates, speakers, sessions, products and exhibitors that will be of interest to you, allowing you to ‘meet’, schedule meetings and start new conversations.

More than just a news site
Alongside the dedicated news streams, we will be hosting all future virtual events, conferences, webinars and round table discussions on the platform. It also has a wealth of previously broadcast content, including the entire series of our ‘Planning Portal: Past, Present and Future’ webinars and recordings from last year’s virtual conference.

Join us today
The Community Hub is free for all to join, you just need to register your details and you will have full access to the site content, including networking, on demand content and the latest news.

If you have registered for the Planning Portal Annual Conference, your preferences will already be saved in The Community Hub, simply click register, and enter your email address and it will populate all your Annual Conference registration details. Then just proceed to activate, and your login and password will be the same. If you are yet to register for this year’s conference you can do so here.

Anyone working in the Public Sector or for a Government Body will be able to access the conference for free. To do so, follow the registration process on the website and select Public Sector/Government Body as your ticket type. Anyone registering for this type of pass, must do so with a gov.uk email address.


Following on from our previous blog post and webinar on changes to legislation that will affect certain applications from 1 August, we are pleased to provide additional detail on the changes we are making to our content and services to maintain legislative compliance, and to think about what that might mean for our public, professional and Local Authority users.

The changes to the application service will be applied after business hours on Friday 30 July to ensure that they are in place for any applications made from that point onward (which would count as being received by a Local Authority on the next working day – Monday 2 August)

Changes to our content may be applied sooner but will, where relevant, reference the date they take effect.

Changes to permitted development and affecting prior approval applications

New types of Prior Approval

Two new fillable PDF forms will be made available for applications to determine if prior approval is required for proposed:

  • Change of use - commercial/business/service to dwellinghouses
  • Change of use - commercial/business/service/etc to mixed use including up to two flats

This is an interim measure until we add them, and the others currently provided in this manner, to our new platform.

Current types of Prior Approval

Updates will be made to the following application types to ensure legislative compliance and, where relevant, to allow applications to be made for proposals classified as ‘protected development’ under the provisions of the legislative changes (see below).

Applications for prior approval of proposed:

  • New dwellinghouses on detached blocks of flats
  • New dwellinghouses on detached buildings in commercial or mixed use
  • New dwellinghouses on terrace buildings in commercial or mixed use
  • New dwellinghouses on terrace buildings in use as dwellinghouses
  • New dwellinghouses on detached buildings in use as dwellinghouses
  • Enlargement of a dwellinghouse by construction of additional storeys

Applications to determine if prior approval is required for proposed:

  • Change of use – takeaway/sui generis/mixed use to dwellinghouses
  • Change of use - agriculture to flexible commercial use
  • Change of use - agriculture to state-funded school
  • Change of use - commercial/business/service/hotels/etc to state-funded school

Outdated types of Prior Approval

The following prior approval types will be retained for the specific purpose of allowing applications to be made for proposals classified as ‘protected development’ under the provisions of the legislative changes (see below).

Applications to determine if prior approval is required for proposed:

  • Change of use - retail to assembly/leisure
  • Change of use - retail/takeaway to offices

Finally, there are three types of prior approval that are no longer valid and should not be used. We will initially mark these as such, and plan to implement a subsequent change to stop them being created or submitted.

Applications to determine if prior approval is required for proposed:

  • Change of use - retail to restaurant/café
  • Change of use - offices to dwellinghouses
  • Change of use - light industrial to dwellinghouses

If you receive a prior approval application that, due to the legislative changes, should not have been made

Firstly, you will need to establish if the proposal falls under any provisions (e.g. ‘protected development’ as per below) that still allow the application to be made.

If not, then we would recommend that you discuss and resolve the matter with the applicant/agent, noting that any such process will be counted within the legislative deadline for determination of the application if it is to be progressed.

It will also be within your powers to refuse the application as authorised by the legislation, for example Schedule 2, Part 3, Paragraph W, Sub-Paragraph 3, and we are warning users that this is a potential outcome.

‘Protected development’ provision

Alongside other ‘transitional provisions’ in the amendments that delineate between the ‘before’ and ‘after’ in regard to changes of use that either no longer constitute development (i.e. where the change of use will be wholly within the same Use Class) or that are subject to more/less/different conditions (e.g. that now or no longer require a prior approval application) there is also a provision for proposals that were, but will no longer be, permitted development.

In these circumstances, the provision classifies these as ‘protected development’ to ensure that for a further year, until the end of July 2022, they can continue to be considered eligible for permitted development rights.

This is achieved by allowing ‘protected development’ proposals to utilise the legislation as it stood prior to the August 2021 changes.

By doing so, it will allow these proposals to begin (or for relevant prior approval applications to be submitted) up to the end of July 2022, and be progressed to completion on that basis.

Changes to ensure consideration of Fire Safety at the planning stage

Legislation is being put in place to ensure that applications for relevant buildings provide the Local Authority with information of sufficient quality (in terms of the professional competence of the provider) and detail to ensure proper consideration and integration of fire safety matters into the development.

We are placing guidance on the website and in the relevant application types and questions, and will add a specific ‘Fire Statement’ to our list of standard supporting document types.

For full and outline planning permission applications, users will be able to add a ‘Fire Statement’ using the template and guidance provided by Government.

For certain types of prior approval application:

  • Application to determine if prior approval is required for a proposed: Change of use from Commercial, Business and Service (Use Class E) to Dwellinghouses (Use Class C3)
  • Applications for prior approval of proposed:
    • New dwellinghouses on detached blocks of flats
    • New dwellinghouses on detached buildings in commercial or mixed use

Where proposals meet the conditions, “the fire safety impacts on the intended occupants of the building” will become a specific matter for consideration, and will require “a statement about the fire safety design principles, concepts and standards that have been applied to the development”, which can be added using the same ‘Fire Statement’ document type.

Other changes that are happening

Content updates will be made on the website and in application questions to surface the shorter application determination periods for major public infrastructure developments (“hospitals, schools and further education colleges, prisons, young offenders’ institutions and other criminal justice accommodation”)

Updates to our fee schedule will be made to reflect the fee values for the following prior approval applications:

  • Enlargement of a dwellinghouse by construction of additional storeys - £96 fee
  • Change of use - commercial/business/service/etc to mixed use including up to two flats  - £96 fee
  • Change of use - commercial/business/service to dwellinghouses - £100 per dwellinghouse

Anyone with an interest in compulsory purchase and land referencing and has had to handle a Book of Reference or a CPO Order Schedule knows it is a large unwieldy document outlining the land and property information and describing the land interests on a given project known to date in a largely prescribed format. TerraQuest, the recognised market leader in Land Referencing, has taken a number of steps over the last few years to transform the delivery of this large and cumbersome paper-based document into an innovative market-leading data solution.

With a specific focus on key infrastructure sectors such as regeneration, road, rail, energy and utilities, we support local authorities across the UK on schemes requiring compulsory purchase. Through providing bespoke solutions to clients, TerraQuest has enabled geospatial data to be fully integrated with other relational datasets and electronic documents to support decision making within the land acquisition process.

All referencing information is stored by TerraQuest in its proprietary Land Acquisition and Recording System (LARS) including Land Parcels, Addresses, Interests, Parties and Titles. The spatial extents of each Land Parcel and Title are digitised in LARS to maintain full referential integrity between data records. Land parcel areas are calculated from the spatial extents and the database attributed accordingly.

The system also supports the recording of public footpaths, bridleways, cycle tracks, byways and any other rights of way. The system maintains an audit log of site visits and both telephone and written enquiries are updated on a continual basis. LARS subsequently produces The Book of Reference (or Order Schedules) and notices via an automatic process.

This is where innovation comes in. TerraQuest has launched a new Land and Property Portal. Built on GIS principles, the Portal offers secure access to source documents, communications and outputs including the Book of Reference and Land Plans.

Through this single Portal, which is integrated across existing TerraQuest solutions, users will be able to manage their projects in one place. The Cloud based nature of the solution will allow you to securely access the latest quality checked data on any device from any location. The portal is the single source of truth and the primary delivery mechanism of Land Referencing projects.

Primarily, the Portal will allow for much easier access to the land information, particularly for those involved in processes such as plot by plot reviews of the scheme enabling the team to justify every plot of acquisition. The portal will also support consultation events and allow users to perform quick searches on specific parties or properties. It will save time, effort and many trees!

You can read more about TerraQuest, its Land Referencing Solutions and the new Land and Property Portal in their capability statement

If you would like more information, please contact Julius Rwegasira by emailing Julius.Rwegasira@terraquest.co.uk or information@terraquest.co.uk or through telephone number 0121 234 1300.