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A clarification regarding the planned deletion of aged Supporting Documents

by on June 28, 2012

Following several comments decrying our decision to reduce the size and cost of our archive, I feel it is necessary to explain exactly what we are planning to do, and why this has no impact on anyone other than the original applicant.

The Portal provides a service to applicants in which they can create and develop applications prior to submission. It then enables the applicant to submit applications to any planning authority. We subsequently store that submission and any other working documents in the applicants personal storage area to which no one including LPAs have access.

The subsequent application and its supporting documents does not become publicly available information until it is registered and published by the LPA.

Only the applicant has access to the information stored on the Portal and it is this we are planning to slim down. Many of the documents stored are large and have not been accessed for years, indeed many form parts of abandoned or cancelled applications.

It is the version of the application registered by the LPA that becomes the live application and it is this that is archived by them not the Portal. As you’ll no doubt appreciate many changes can be made to an application post submission by either the applicant or LPA most of which will not be made via the Planning Portal.

We have never maintained any form of publicly accessible database of planning applications and there are currently no plans for a central database.

Our proposals therefore have no impact on the planning history of any project and will not lead to any deterioration of accessibility to information.  LPAs will continue as always to retain the statutory duty to archive planning applications.

This action will ensure taxpayers money is spent effectively and not wasted storing unwanted private documents for indefinite periods.

6 Comments
  1. GRPA permalink

    I presume all the negative comments are from people that don’t use the Portal! And therefore don’t understand its role. And its ‘public’ limitations. And lack the ability to read properly!

    I haven’t seen any agent/architect that actually uses the Portal (and is therefore potentially affected) complaining!

  2. sunrise permalink

    This is a perfectly sensible move, says this agent who can read and uses the Portal for many purposes, but not generally for planning applications. More for up to date information and news.

    As for “We have never maintained any form of publicly accessible database of planning applications and there are currently no plans for a central database”, perhaps this is something that could be on the agenda for the future.

    It always struck me as absolutely daft that 400 or so different planning authorities paid to have their own applications and appeals database designed. Apart from being a total waste of money, another result is that the quality of those databases is extremely variable, from excellent to “excuse me a minute while I tear my hair out”, and they all work differently. A lost opportunity that is all too typical of local government I’m afraid.

    • PortalDirector permalink

      We did try and float the idea of a national database a few years back, without success I’m afraid.
      Largely due to the cost, although in my opinion it would have paid for itself.
      I haven’t quite given up on it yet though.

  3. Sunrise,
    So,so true. But we can’t let logic, common sense and pragmatism enter the realms of Local Government can we. That would be asking to much. Let’s spend tens of thousands and sack a planning officer to make up the shortfall.

  4. PortalDirector permalink

    Now, now, Local Authority systems existed long before the Portal came into being and to be fair we’ve never offered them an alternative. In this era of shared services and austerity though many are now considering new ways of working that include shared back office.

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