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A quick win to help reduce invalid applications and raise a little revenue

by on October 25, 2011

Although this blog is intended for everyone, now and again I use it to talk to a particular group, in this case my friends in local planning authorities.

You have told us again and again that the plans attached to applications are a common cause of invalid applications.

We’re working to address this (and generate some revenue to keep the wolf from the door) by asking all of you who do not sell plans or have a preferred supplier to add a link to our Buy a Plan service.

 Many already do this and are realising the benefits. However, there are a number of you that don’t sell plans or give details on where users can buy the mandatory site location and block plans needed to support their applications.

Our Buy a Plan service lets users create plans themselves and includes guidance on what needs to be submitted.

Our service links to suppliers whose mapping services have been Portal-accredited and Ordnance Survey-approved, making sure you get the plans you need on submission, saving you time and money.

We’ve sold about 35,000 in the past year so they are clearly doing the job.

Adding a link to our service couldn’t be easier, we’ve created a button (on the right) and a simple quick link http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/buyaplan

It will only take a few minutes to add the link to your website and our experience shows that it will help reduce the time you spend dealing with invalid applications.

We have also created the following explanatory text that you can add to your site above the link and button:

Every planning application needs a site location plan and block plan showing the location and boundaries of the site you are planning to work on. You can use the Planning Portal’s ‘Buy a Plan’ service to ensure that you meet our requirements, whether you are a planning professional or first-time applicant.
Click here to “Buy a Plan”

Please also add our guidance document on the plans that need to be submitted with planning applications.

If you are reading this and you’re not from an LPA the message is simple BUY YOUR MAPS FROM THE PORTAL they work, they’re cost effective and it keeps this ship afloat.

13 Comments
  1. ian hewitt permalink

    The latest excuse for invalidation comes from our friends at an un-named Borough who refuse to accept plans of a JPEG format, even if they carry scaling bars etc. PDF’s or nothing!

    • PortalDirector permalink

      As I understand it JPegs are not scalable in the way a PDF is even with a scale bar, but I may be wrong.

  2. Arch. Ian Treleaven Fitzherbert BArch(Hons) PPSPEng permalink

    Has anyone else had an Email from an LPA to advise that it is “not the policy” of the LPA “IT” department to pass on bundles of drawings that exceed 5MB in size ?
    I have found that it is not the “IT capability” of the LPA that blocks passing these bundls on to the case officer concerned (because I ring them & they speak to the “IT Police” and then have the documents delivered) it is “POLICY” – as in Jobsworth!

  3. Andy permalink

    My favourite reason I have been given for not registering my application was that I had not included the red and blue lines, when i spoke to them they advised me that they only had a black and white printer, hence no red or blue lines after a PP application!

  4. R T Phelps permalink

    Too many applications are invalidated for the most trivial of reasons because the person responsible for the validation process has a tick box and no knowledge of the planning process.

    However, if you draw you plans with a knife and fork so that the look as they have been drawn by the applicant the chances are that it will be validated without a murmur. Whilst Apps has created some good things it has created another layer of bureaucracy and eliminated common sense. Also, the form is not flexible enough in that it requires answers to questions that are not always relevant.

    Keep it simple.

    Rick Phelps

  5. R Cox permalink

    After 30 years working for various LPA’s I am now on the outside! LPA’s do have all the technology and resourses to deal with what ever we send them but red tape rules, unless…… you negotiate! its worth a try.

    Richard Cox

  6. James P permalink

    I agree with RTPhelps about different validation standards for professionals and householders/builders.

    How some of these applications are validated and then adequately considered when drawn by a child on greaseproof loo paper with a crayon is one of the great unsolved mysteries of my working life.

    Thank you for making me laugh on a miserable November morning.

  7. Robert Dabell permalink

    The 1APP process has its glitches and frustrations but on the whole it’s far more convenient than compiling a paper submission. What I don’t understand is to what extent the LPA that will ultimately receive the application has any control over the information that is required to be completed. I have recently submitted a couple of Householder applications and for one reason or another got stuck and ended up calling the technical support number. On both occassions I was told that the problems were due to particular requirements of the receiving LPA. One matter related to documents and the other to payment of the fee. Could you please clarify this matter. When it comes to LPA validation … don’t get me started ! Unbelievable levels of incompetence and ineptitude. Even had one authority which took almost a month to process the application and only did so after I complained. Then they printed and scanned the 1APP drawings (which of course were already in PDF format) and uploaded their scans – of appalling quality – to their own web-site – prompting yet another letter of complaint.

  8. concerned consultant permalink

    I met with an unnamed LPA on friday, senior officer, due to the number of apps being sent back at validation stage for spurious and unsupportable reasons. They explained politely that my successful application for costs against them last year on an appeal meant that staff felt intimidated by me and would follow the validation checklist slavishly regardless of the application of it. When I pointed out that costs were only ordered due to their unreasonable behaviour, they of course disagreed. I pointed out a matter where they had accepted plans from a client but not from me and they stated they “need to give members of the public leeway so as not to throw them into the hands of agents unnecessarily, increasing costs” – clearly the costs of members of the public who use a fully accredited representative do not matter then!

  9. David Broker permalink

    As a professional Agent I have been making applications for 35 years +.
    and yes for some reason I still make minor mistakes,normaly nothing that would make the slightest difference to the final validity of a planning decision.But when I see some of the applications by home owners that are self submitted and are validated.There are definately dual standards.I do not seem to be able to convince”validators”That a scale bar on a CAD.PRODUCED PLAN.removes the necessity to have the scale actualy noted.Looking back to the time before Validation beacme a new career title,probaly 90% of all applications/approvals are invalid when considered against the correct way to do the job

  10. T. Barwick permalink

    The issue I always have is the many LPA’s are unable to print out the plans including the outline mark-ups they simply cannot manage to select print document and markups in the print window. I should charge a training fee for the amount of times I have instructed them how to do this. Fortunately most authorities are now using the email as a correspondence tool to request new plans, however, significant time is wasted trying to get an application validated for their lack of training.

  11. martin white permalink

    I have always understood that any plan submitted on the portal cannot be over 5mb in size. Seems reasonable to me especially if lots of plans otherwise would take an age to download. I always tell my engineering colleagues to not exceed 5mb if they can but if they have to provide a copy of the plan on CD to the LPA. I also spend alot of time at the start been very clear to them what scale it must, reference points etc. A bit of time at the start saves a lot of time at the end.

  12. Ing.P.Eur, Arch. Ian Treleaven Fitzherbert BArch (Hons) PPSPEng. permalink

    It may be “because I am Old” – but I wonder if the “plans vetting” delays are really set up to “delay registration” & to extend the eight week determination period – a bit like a waiter taking a drinks order before he delays and later comes back for your food order ( when thr kitchen is ready).
    I have found that many of the “vetting” questions are now actually becoming matters that should be dealt with by a case officer – but that would be within the eight week period!

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