1APP improvements: what do they mean for applicants?
Last week I blogged about the benefits the 1APP improvements project will deliver to LPAs. This week, I’d like to address how the improvements will help applicants.
We’ve known for a long time that attaching the multiple documents required to support online planning applications on the Portal can be a time-consuming and repetitive process, particularly for larger or more complex submissions.
So shortly, rather than having to attach each drawing, location plan and other supporting documents individually and answering the same set of questions for every attachment, the process will soon be much more straightforward saving users considerable time and more than a little frustration.
Here’s a list of the improvements we’re making to the attachment process:
- Two simplified screens – one for local level and optional documents and the other for mandatory documents
- Upload multiple documents – The new system will let you attach up to 10 documents at a time, which can then all be uploaded with a single mouse-click. We had a lot of requests for this.
- Reduced number of questions – the number of questions/tick box statements required have been reduced by half. The system will no longer ask for:
- File type – this will be automatically detected by the system
- Paper size
- Confirmation that each attachment has been printed
We are adding a single set of terms and conditions for adding attachments to cut down on the number of boxes that need to be checked.
- Merge documents – A new feature will be added which lets applicants combine mandatory documents in a single file. For example you will be able to incorporate a design and access statement within another document and site and/or other plans within another file.
As well as improving the supporting documents functionality, we’re also going to be making some key improvements elsewhere in the service.
- Highlighted questions – Mandatory questions are highlighted to avoid any ambiguity throughout the application process
- Enhanced guidance – we’ve improved the presentation of the help text for each question to make it clearer and more useful to the applicant
- Simplified pay and submit process – new users often get confused by the process for paying for and submitting an application. This has led to applications being paid for without being submitted. We’ve made some improvements to the pay and submit screens to make it clearer for new users.
As ever, there’s more we’d like to do to improve the service. I hope you’ll agree that this is a good start and I hope you can benefit from the changes we’re introducing. We’re aiming to have all the changes live in May. As soon as we have a firm date, I’ll let you know.
In case you missed it, we already made a few changes to the service on 10th April. The key improvement for applicants was the pre-population of certain form areas to save time spent re-keying data. Learn more in my earlier post.
As ever, you can share your thoughts by adding a comment below.
Update: Some fantastic feedback so far – thanks! Quite a few of you are raising the 5MB attachments limit in the comments. Please have a read of my earlier blog post on the very subject.