The tricky case of the 5MB attachment limit – revisited
Quite a number of you have responded to my posts on the recent changes to 1App by applauding the improvements but reminding me of the problem of file size limits.
As a result I thought it worthwhile reposting this entry which was first published on Valentines Day.
Thanks. Here it is…
We’ve been talking to some Portal users on Twitter recently about the issue of the 5MB limit on application attachments. We know it’s something that some users find a pain.
Rightly, in a time of superfast broadband (at least for some), why should we be constrained by a relatively small file sizes? Particularly for documents like Design and Access Statements where professional applicants may want to show things like architectural design and details in the best possible light.
I hope to achieve two things with this post.
First, to let you know the exact position on the 5MB limit and the reasons we have it.
Second, to open this out to discussion with LPAs and planning and building professionals about what to do about it.
Where are we now?
The current position is that there is a 5MB limit on individual application attachments. However, there is no limit (at least theoretically) on the total number of attachments associated with an application.
The reason for a 5MB limit is three-fold.
Firstly, without a standard size for attachments we risk returning to a fragmented position which varies from LPA to LPA. The Portal is working to the Government’s Localism agenda but a little surety for applicants on file size should aid and not hinder this.
Secondly, in theory the Portal does not need to limit attachment size – this request came from LPAs and also statutory consultees who have a size limit on the files that can pass through their corporate firewalls.
LPAs act a conduit for consultation of applications via their websites. Therefore they have to consider the file sizes of documents and other material they publish on their websites to ensure all interested parties can access the information.
We last asked LPAs about the 5MB limit a year ago. Here are the key figures:
- 47% of LPAs are able to receive larger file sizes than 5MB
- 45% of LPAs want to keep the limit the way is at 0-5MB per attachment
- 32% of LPAs would like to accept file sizes over 5MB
Clearly, we can ask the question again and it’s safe to suspect that there will likely be an increase in LPAs accepting larger file sizes – but there will likely be a significant number of LPAs still calling for a 5MB limit.
Thirdly, in theory we could adapt the Portal service to offer greater flexibility. This takes money and needless to say money is in short supply at the moment. In addition, making any change needs to take into account the first two points.
Where do we want to go next?
So, that’s the current position. The next question is what we (collectively) should do about it.
- Does the system need to change to allow greater flexibility from LPA to LPA?
- Do we keep the 5MB limit and find ways of working smarter with documents, sharing best practice on how to produce high-quality documents?
- Or is it time for LPAs and consultees to accept larger file sizes across the board? And if so, what should the limit be?
We’ll be following up this blog post with some good practice tips from our corporate account team, gleaned from years of experience of working with professional applicants and LPAs.
If you have your own tips, ideas and suggestions, please share them below as a comment.