Bristol Tree Event: “Online TPOs save company two hours per application”
Last Thursday we hosted a free training event at our offices in central Bristol to encourage tree professionals in the area to submit their works to trees and TPO applications online.
The event was the first of a series of activities we are delivering in partnership with our four neighbouring West of England local planning authorities (LPAs) to look at ways to improve the planning services they provide while reducing waste, costs and red tape.
The four LPAs – Bristol City, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils, meet regularly to discuss new joint working initiatives, and share ideas and best practice.
As part of this approach, they are encouraging all planning applications to be submitted online using the Portal. Their websites make clear their preference for online submissions which has resulted in each of them receiving more than 60% of applications online. This also ties-in with their wider strategic aims to encourage greater take-up of electronic service delivery channels.
The interactive session included a presentation from Ian Barrow of Bartlett Tree Experts Ltd about their experiences of adopting the Portal for online submissions.
Ian said: “Having introduced online submission throughout the company several years ago, we now submit all of our annual about 1,700 applications via the Portal.
“This has saved us a couple of hours per application and helped to streamline our processes, making it easier to actively monitor and manage applications and keep our customers updated on progress.
“The Portal has helped to achieve a much needed standardisation to the submission process and improved relationships with Planning Authorities through consistency and certainty of service”.
Claire Harbinson of Bristol City Council gave an interesting presentation on ‘A day in life of a Tree Officer’ which included her involvement in helping set local policy through to its implementation on the ground.
The Portal team were also on-hand to give a tailored walkthrough of making an online tree application to help overcome any perceived barriers and registered many new users to help them get started.
The event also provided a good opportunity for the LPA representatives to network and build closer relationships with their regular submitters, discussing local policy and how they process applications.
Keith Stuffins who owns Blackthorn Boundaries said: “I’m not a regular user of the internet, I submit all my applications on paper by post. I’ve been encouraged to attend by a BANES arboricultural officer and prior to the event was not aware of the Planning Portal. Now that I’m registered I’m determined to give it go.”
In the Autumn the Planning Portal will be hosting a similar event in partnership with the West of England LPAs but focused on planning matters and joint working initiatives.
I would personally like to thank all the LPAs for contributing to a successful event, Mark Chester for attending from the Consulting Arborist Society and all those that attended and welcome you to the online planning community.
If you are an LPA interested in working with the Planning Portal to host a similar event, or would like to encourage greater take-up of online planning applications, please contact Scott.Alford@planningportal.gsi.gov.uk