e-Consultation Hub Work stream 5a – Improving LPA Processing
The e-Consultation Hub, recommended for national adoption by the Killian Pretty Review, was formally launched in autumn 2008 by the Planning Portal on behalf of CLG. Expected to help drive and enhance the Government’s modernisation agenda, the Hub has been introduced to provide all of the national stakeholders in the planning process with the capability to complete both their internal and external consultation online.
Phase 1, the delivery of the Hub, was completed in spring 2008. This was followed by a live user test over a three-month period between July and September 2008. Two Statutory Consultees and 34 LPAs participated in the test. To date there are 45 LPAs live and many consultees using the Hub with 31 LPAs on test.
Two major statutory consultees, the Environment Agency and English Heritage, have chosen CLG’s e-Consultation Hub as their preferred method of receiving consultations.
Both agencies took part in the three-month live user test last summer and as a result are convinced that the Hub will improve the way they offer planning advice.
Commenting on the organisation’s support for the e-Consultation Hub, Simon Birch, Head of Planning at the Environment Agency, said: “The Environment Agency is continually looking to improve the way in which we work and we are convinced that the Hub will bring long-term efficiencies. Not only will it speed up the planning process, it will also reduce carbon emissions – making it a greener way of working. We look forward to working with both the Planning Portal and with Local Planning Authorities in implementing the Hub which is now our preferred method of consultation.”
Steven Bee, Director of Planning and Development at English Heritage sees e-consultation as part of the organisation’s commitment to continuous improvement in the delivery of planning advice. He said: “The Hub provides vital consistency in the timely receipt of consultations. The email prompts have also been particularly helpful in assigning our experts to the numerous requests for advice. Electronic notification of decisions will also enable us to monitor systematically the outcome of development proposals affecting the most important aspects of the historic environment.”
A copy of each organisation’s press release is available on the Planning Portal. EH & EA press release
Launch of the first e-Consultation Hub Connector
Ocella Software Systems Limited has launched the first Connector for the e-Consultation Hub to provide a fully integrated online consultation solution for LPAs.
Ocella was the first to respond to the demand of its customers in delivering the connector to the market.
South Oxfordshire District Council has been working in partnership with Ocella during the development phase and has been the pilot site for the first connector. The pilot was a success and South Oxfordshire District Council went live with the connector on 30 September and is now reaping the benefits.
Angie Paterson, cabinet member for planning at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We were really happy with the results of the pilot and are looking forward to reaping the benefits the e-Consultation Hub offers. We are proud to be leading the way as the first fully connected LPA using the Hub.”
Simon Raven, from Ocella Software Systems, said: “We are really pleased to be the first company to get a connector for the Hub on the market. In our opinion the e-Consultation Hub is the next logical step for LPAs who have been receiving planning applications electronically for years. This will simply ensure that everyone benefits from the time and cost savings associated with e-working.”
A copy of the press release for the launch of the first connector is available on here.
The Planning Portal continues to work with other ICT suppliers to deliver connectors between the Hub and LPA back office systems. If you would like an update on progress we recommend contacting your supplier direct.
Enhancements to creating Consultations
Following feedback from LPAs and consultees, the option to select ‘Invalid’ as a reason for closing a consultation has been added. We will also be making an enhancement to allow tailoring the consultee list used by LPAs to only include relevant consultees.
We are also constantly improving the Hub, how it works and its functionality. A solution has now been implemented which enables parish, town and community councils to act as consultees on the e-Consultation Hub. The system can identify the boundary lines for the parish, town and community councils and automatically associates them with the correct LPA.
This means that when setting up consultation requests, LPAs are presented with a list of parish, town and community councils that have an interest in that particular area. The LPA can then decide which consultees and parishes they wish to consult with.
If you are interested in finding out more about the e-Consultation Hub and the benefits it offers, please contact your Regional Account Manager or visit the e-Consultation Page on the Planning Portal.