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Planning Portal, Directgov and LPA websites

by on November 11, 2009

You may be aware that most Government websites are required to shift citizen-facing content to Directgov by March 2011. The idea being to make it easier for citizens to find Government content and to reduce the mountain of .Gov websites cluttering up the web.
Up ’til now we’ve struggled to understand how we might meet this obligation while retaining our ability to continue to drive reform of the planning system. This has caused no little tension.
That was then…
Regular readers will be aware of our recent IT upgrade and the upcoming redesign using a much more modular approach. The key benefit of this will be the ability to deliver different versions of the Portal for different audiences while publishing only once (a hydra with one body and many heads is one analogy – but not in a scary way!).
This means we will now be able to offer up a version of the Portal specifically for the Directgov audience. It will be wrapped in the Directgov branding and adhere to Directgov quality standards but will be entirely managed within our existing infrastructure and contain the tools and services the Portal has become well known for.
We presented this idea to the good folks at Directgov very recently, and I think they’ll agree, we have a very positive way forward.
We see this as a wonderful opportunity to benefit from the undoubted skills and experience that Directgov has and to contribute to the improvement of Government services online on a wider platform. This will take a little while but watch this space for regular updates.

We are also investigating whether there may be demand from LPAs for a locally branded version of the Portal.
Following the principles described above, we might develop a version of the site that serves up just the stuff an LPA might want its citizens to have. Once again wrapped in local branding but automatically generated from centrally created Portal content.

It’s great what technology and joined-up Government can do these days!

  1. Marcus Galey permalink

    ‘a version of the site that serves up just the stuff an LPA might want its citizens to have’

    That’s scarier than the hydra!


    • PortalDirector permalink

      O.K let me re-phrase that for the paranoid amongst you!!
      The LPA version (if we offered one) might contain all the bits of the Portal that help citizens understand planning with a local and personal dimension.
      The idea would be to reduce calls to the LPA where our guidance – Interactive Houses etc might answer the questions.
      If we could offer up local planning application searches and other info re-using centrally procured systems; G.I.S for example then everybody wins and regardless of where the citizen begins the journey, LPA website, Portal or Directgov they’ll have a familiar and consistent experience.
      Hope that makes it a bit clearer.

  2. There are so many problems with the interpretation of Permitted Development rights, with local planning authorities and some Inspectors interpreting them more tightly than the Government intended that it would be impossible for LPAs to publish your interactive house.
    The problem with extensions to the side of outriggers needs to be resolved by the Government, as does the issue of how materials of similar appearance can be placed on the roof of a flat roofed loft extension to a pitched roof. If this guidance was then published in DirectGov, would its status be elevated? That would be a step forward.


    • Bob Thom permalink

      I am not from the ilk of planners, architects, LPA,s Quango,s etc, I live in the world of engineers, objectivity and standards such as BS, EN, API, ASME etc. By design items either conform or by exception have calculation support, any argument must be objective. For planning we have an SI, numerous interpretations, your interactive house, LPA,s forms which you fill in and if your answers suit, you comply. The SI is not objective, it should be interpreted as an objective standard. If you comply with the standard it is a permitted development. If you don’t hard luck you have to deal with the LPA who have their own yardstick understanding. How ever all is not lost, the supervisory body for the standard will realize that guidance can be stated on the problems of matching tiles for flat roofs stated, this is certainly not a government thing. Planning has fallen into the hands of wealth generators for LPA’s, architects, planning consultants et al. Yes we have the problems of townscapes of tomorrow and what is reasonably acceptable and these should be for discussion. However for permitted development a consensus body has published what should be acceptable based on impact to surroundings. This should be accepted, there may be shortcomings as with the previous volume approach, which needed revision. That should not mean that we will next have a call for the demise of Permitted Development since it is not well defined. We are soon into 2010, economically we cannot afford to discuss the acceptableness of matching roof tiles when petrol costs twice today’s value because of Russian economic advantage, the LPA bureau of interpreters of permitted development will be unaffordable because of lack of council Tax income. Get with it, we will not be able to afford all this interminable discussion of is it a PD or not.

  3. Martin permalink

    I am a property developer, I am not quite sure how you will supply information for each LPA that will meet the nasty varying standards of information on their own websites.

    With this in mind I think an interactive Hydra maybe more useful if not more fun.

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