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If you are reading this you’re a very special person

by on October 14, 2011

One of you is my 100,000th viewer, wow!
I really value your feedback and it does make a difference – maybe not as quickly as you and I would always like, but we usually get there in the end, where Government finance and procurement allows.

By way of thanks and in celebration of this milestone I’d be very happy to visit your neck of the woods and buy lunch or a round of golf for the next person to comment on this blog.

So if you think you could stand a free lunch or 4 hours of very average but free golf with me get posting now. First posted – first served.

Don’t worry, no need to inform the press, its coming from my pocket and the offer does not apply to Portal employees!

From → Shameless PR

  1. Ian Hewitt permalink

    I doubt i’m the first to respond as i’m currently enjoying the 30 degree Costa autumnal heatwave, so no hard feelings!

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Hello Ian,
      you are the first and thereby lucky winner, but if you think I’m forking out for flights to the Costa to buy you lunch you haven’t factored in the fact that I’m a poor Civil Servant.
      Very happy to set things up when you return though.
      All my best and thanks for reading.

  2. pauline tillett permalink

    Hello Ian

    As a regular user of the planning portal it has certainly improved sicne it started but there are still some things that annoy. I though it was standardised so why is it that some authorities have different national requirements, particulalry when they ask for a design and access statement and one isn’t required. It really frustrating having to add a document that actually says not required.


  3. Eileen Baldwin permalink

    what a lovely offer but I must refuse ! I do not play golf neither and am a dieter lol. just saying thanks for what help you tried to and since our query this morning I have now been seen by the planning Officer re my dispute

    Thanks for making me smile today lol

  4. tim kendall permalink

    Hi Chris.Think you could handle Cumberland sausage and a tough links in West Cumbria?

  5. Dawn permalink

    I am a fan of the portal and much prefer to use in place of paper copies, there a few minor tweaks I’d make such as checking the box to say you’ve checked you can open your pdf for every upload. Like I say, minor irritations in a system that on the whole delivers an efficient service. Well done all.

  6. Lindsay Thompson permalink

    For more practical feedback I would like to make the following comments. Our department has been using the Portal regularly since it started. On the positive side it makes life easier in that you can just tick boxes and enter details and after submission you receive a receipt. On the negative side, however, it is very slow (particularly on a Friday!), keeps crashing, the Materials section is cumbersome – it would be easier to enter all the details in one window without having to open each section separately. In Section 19 Employment if you wish to state ‘not known’ there is nowhere to put in a text answer. In Section 22 Industrial or Commercial Processes and Machinery there should be an additional tick box at the top of the page so you could indicate yes or no, so you do not have to put Not Applicable in the box. In the section All Types of Development – Non-Residential Floorspace if you wish to indicate ‘Other’ although you state ‘Please specify’ there is no facility for inserting text. Also, as an administrator I make applications for different members of staff and it would easier if there was a mechanism to allow submission by different people rather than keep having to change the account details e.g. as Administrator you could have access to tick boxes for different members of staff which then changed the details to that member of staff. Looking forward to continued improvements with the service.

  7. I find the system very convenient, thank you. However, I have encountered the problems Lindsay has has mentioned. Also, when one is busy doing other things, a longer period before you have to reconnect to your project would be useful

    Thank you

    Gary Wensley RIBA

  8. Hi there,

    I am a reknowned technophobe and at first found the Portal difficult and too wieldy. After a few goes it became easy (providing you know what documents you need and pdf them ahead of time). Not like me to congratulate Planning – but… credit where it is due – well done Planning Portal!


    PS I dont play golf but four hours of drift racing would be nice!

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Thanks for your kind words Martin,
      they are much appreciated, believe me there’s lots we’d like to do to simplify the Portal, but money is tight which is why we try and pick up revenues where we can.

      According to Wikipedia, Drift challenges drivers to navigate a course in a sustained sideslip by exploiting coupled nonlinearities in the tire force response, whereas golf involves smacking a small ball with a big stick. Intellectually I know where I’m most comfortable.

  9. Michael Carroll permalink

    I have a considerable number of specification sheets which contain text and illustrative photographs. I use them mainly for building regulation submissions, but occasionally they are useful for planning applications to clarify certain issues, e.g. to indicate impermeable floors where a site is susceptible to gas migration.
    The problem is that they were prepared using Microsoft Word and are .docx files which cannot be sent via the Planning Portal.
    Conversion to .doc files results in corruption of the text and all the photographs are lost.
    I could rework the files in .doc format – but there are lots of them and they represent around 6 months’ of effort. So the prospect of reworking every document is somewhat daunting.
    At present I transmit the documents as a separate e-mail after the planning submission has been made. That seems to work and I have had no complaints from local authorities. But it would be really useful if the Planning Portal’s system could be tweeked to accept .docx files.
    Are there any plans to upgrade the system?

    Michael Carroll

    • John Atkins permalink

      We “print” things like this on a PDF writer (plenty of free ones available) and submit the PDFs
      Any reason why this doesn’t work?

  10. Hi Michael, thanks for the comment and apologies for the difficulties you’ve been experiencing. I’m glad to hear you’ve found a workaround.

    The reason for the restriction is that we needed to specify the document types that could be accepted by the system and that pre-dated the introduction of .docx. In most circumstances our Service Desk advise applicants to do what you tried originally – re-save as .doc – although clearly in your case that hasn’t been possible.

    We will certainly review the range of supported file types we can accept through the site.

    Thanks again for getting in touch.

  11. Russell White permalink

    Great system but we now have local authorities asking for hard copies following portal

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Hi Russell,
      what reasons do they give for needing hard copies.

  12. Hi Chris

    I hope you are well.

    Thanks for your invitation, it would be good to meet up.

    Keep up the good work.



  13. I’m afraid I don’t play golf but my brother is a past captain at Tehidy Golf Club so I’m sure he’d be happy to go a round with you if you’re ever in Cornwall.
    PS i.m surprised the on-line planning application form doesn’t include for the Client & Agent to be a Company or for form to be signed by a Company, which is the standard procedure for Companies.

  14. ian hewitt permalink

    Hello Chris,

    Oh wow, had an amazing holiday AND won your little draw too!! Only just seen the result since, being employed [ just! ] in the solar industry following the Governments latest u-turn last week on FITs, i’m sure you can appreciate how hectic things are!

    Well yes, as anyone who knows me will testify I do love my food and was until recently an avid golfer too so the choice is hard but given that the old shoulder remains as sore as ever, lunch may have to win the day. Maybe lunch at a golf course?

    I too am a fellow northerner, based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire but prefer the proper shaped ball to you egg chasers. I do occasionally travel south in the course of my work so I’ve no doubt we can meet up somewhere, look forward to it.

    Kind regards & many thanks for the gesture.


  15. Ann Kennedy permalink

    It seems that many of your contributors are professionals making regular use of the portal. I am not and have only submitted one application through it. I found the experience very frustrating even though i would regard myself as usually competent with computers/internet. It’s a while ago now so i don’t recall all the details but i did find it difficult to use – not exactly user friendly – and in particular it was difficult to work out what needed to be submitted. Anyway i did manage it but then (by snail mail) got a letter from the LPA telling me that i needed to submit a flood risk assessment – quite why since it was for a haybarn i don’t know! So i added it via the portal. When i checked a week later, the LPA had not received the document. So i emailed it … never did work out what i did wrong! If my LPA permitted it, i would rather have submitted my application by email.

    • ian hewitt permalink

      Dear Ann,

      For a first timer [ and occasionally an old timer like me! ] the Portal can be frustrating but in the main, it has revolutionised the submission of applications!
      However, the system is only as good as it’s subscribers and, having dragged most LPA’s into the 21 century, some remain in the dragging and screaming mode and appear to do anything and everything to deny the applicant a speedy registration of their application. Frivolous invalidations and unjustified delays in issuing the registration even when submitted via the Portal are sufferences for us all. I have also come across some who will not accept applications by email either!
      Please don’t be put off if you need to submit again!

  16. cindy permalink

    I think all correspondence from the council pertaining to an application should be also sent through the portal-

  17. Barry Tierney permalink

    very interesting subject matter as usual, is it just me or do others come across over zealous LAPD’s with an unhealthy interest in pushing planning applicants down the various paths of Soil Samples, Environmental Noise Surveys, Wildlife Flora and Forna Surveys, and finally Wildlife Corridor re-instatement Plans……?
    All very interesting subject matter but are they really necessary when the outcome of an application can be answered before the application with a, “no sorry not on that site, we wil not grant on that location.”

  18. As a 75 yr old and having applied through the planning portal for a small extension (first time ever) I found the system saved time and money and the planning drawings submitted were a doddle (PDF). Thanks for sorting out one mistake your staff were most helpful. I have now received planning permission from Central Beds. But computer knowledge is essential . regards.

  19. vicky woods permalink

    The portal is ok if a bit clunky-any chance of smart phone apps any time soon?

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Hi Vicky,
      we agree about the clunkiness but we’re working with very constrained resources right now as I’m sure you’ll appreciate.

      We’d love to create some apps but any money we do raise will probably go on improving 1App first.

Please give us your feedback but we won’t publish any comments that are not constructive or that criticise any individual, any named business or any local authority. Please note, all comments will be moderated before being published.

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