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Have your say on our future

by on August 1, 2012

As you may already know we’re now in our 10th year (and still no OBE!) and I’m now busy plotting the next 10.

I know how invaluable (but imperfect) the 1APP system is and I’ve a good handle on the challenges faced by Local Authorities who are squeezed for cash and resources.

What I’d like to hear from you dear readers is where you see the Portal in the future and what you believe our role should be in supporting economic growth and stretched local services.

I’d like to hear what services or products you might like us develop, what you value about our services today, what you’d keep and what you wouldn’t.

I’d also like your views on the emerging trends we might hang our hat on and perhaps even which services might you be willing to pay for.

I’m happy for your view to be ‘big picture’ or detail focussed but as always keep ’em clean and keep ’em constructive.

12 Comments
  1. James permalink

    As a property developer, I would be pleased to see a better search engine for appeals. Unless you have the postcode or the appeal reference number exactly, it is very difficult to use.

    It also dawned on me recently that most Council planning policy sections in their websites are in complete disarray. the LDF system has meant that it is very difficult to find up to date proposals maps showing the designation of a site. Furthermore, you have to trawl through many pages to find relevant policies to a development and even then, there is no certainty that what you have found is the latest policy. A clearer and more standardised way of viewing the latest policies in each Borough would be an absolute “godsend”.

  2. Lou permalink

    Thanks for an excellent blog – the planning portal is a success. As to what is next over the horizon, I am a concerned town resident fighting a planning application from a large corporation. It has become clear over the weeks that the dice are loaded against citizens wanting the best for their local economy. I would like to see some exploration of how the planning process can be demystified to non experts that do not have an intimate knowledge of the legal aspects of NPPF.

  3. Trevor Dennington permalink

    I recently used the PP service to submit a planning application online for the first time. It was hard work and I could have done it in half the time on paper but “old dogs, new tricks” and all that; I’m happy to accept that I’ll probably get used to it.
    My major concern right now is something the PP probably can’t assist with – Community Infrastructure Levy – i.e. Gordon Brown’s Planning Gain ‘Supplement’ (i.e. TAX !) under a new name, and its consequences for the UK’s economic recovery. Ever since the early 1960’s the housing market has led us into and out of recessions. At the very time it is struggling to lead us out of one and into recovery again, naive local councils are scheming to charge housebuilders up to £19,000 per house under the pretext that this will be the cost of additional infrastructure that the new house will demand. (I have never heard such a load of ‘horlicks’ in my life! A group of councils has even got together to instruct consultants to discover the MAXIMUM CIL that they could charge, which totally gives the game away.) Local council employees will also evidently be making judgments about the financial viability of developments; if they had any real expertise at that they would be earning two or three times as much doing it for Wimpey or Barratt !
    This tax on planning permission has been tried 3 times before, most recently in the mid 1960’s and late 1970’s by Labour governments under Harold Wilson. It was a total disaster both times and it will be again.
    Our leading politicians were toddlers or not even born at the time, so do not have the benefit of that experience to draw on. But in two or three years time, the penny will drop and local councils will wonder why they are not getting the new housing they need.
    A £19,000 additional cost on providing a new house will push up house prices by just over 11% at a time when buyers are already struggling to secure a mortgage. At the same time the government proposes to add 15% to planning application fees, having increased maximum fees for housing developments by 400% in 2008.
    In both instances, the policies are utterly daft, and the irrationality of politicians and central and local government bureaucrats often drives me to despair.

  4. Building Regulation applications desperately need to be brought fully online, with all councils receiving online applications …. and what better place than the Planning Portal?

  5. How I agree with Paul about Building Regulations!!
    I am also on the case with my LPA regarding acknowledgement letters being emailed to applicants/agents who use the Portal – another cost saving to offset additional costs of technology for the Buiding Inspectors.
    I also agree with Trevor about CIL – a complete waste of resource except in the case of major housing – but it needs to be realistic rather than a figure plucked out of a non-commercial ether from Planet Zog.
    I do not agree that it is difficult to use PP for applications – quite the reverse and wish it had been around in the 70’s when I was submitting at least one a week.
    Keep up the good work and best wishes for the next 10 [and the OBE!]

  6. tsm permalink

    From a local planning authority view we would like to see an intergrated online appeal service. Currently we receive communications via email and are copyinhg these into our document management system and updating our database. Customers should be able to submit their appeals online and authorities download each of the communications and data into their back office systems and document management systems in a seamless fashion. Waiting eargerly for this development………

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Jeanette,
      I will pass on your feedback to PINs as it is them not us that manage the appeals service.
      Our role is simply to provide access to the service via the Portal website.

  7. geoffrey smith permalink

    re C.I.L. and Trevor’s note above – I innocently thought when new property was built and occopied, one paid rates to the L.A. to provide services. That income over many years paid for the capital costs involved as well – and general tax too. But then I forgot our obsession with money and the greed it engenders in all areas of our society.
    Add the validation process to this and one soon realises what a mess the planning system is in. I am trying to highlight the professional shortcomings of this requirement as 1) it reduces the planning assistant to a box ticking function and 2) it seems a bit much to expect a M.R.T.P.I. to be competent to assess the relevance/importance of say a contamination or wildlife or environmental report prepared by other professionals. Yes, I am trying to draw others attention to this,
    Thanks for Portal – we do love you !!!

    • Trevor Dennington permalink

      Yes, Geoffrey, until Gordon Brown got his final stealth tax idea – Planning Gain “Supplement” i.e. Planning Permission “Tax” – before being kicked out, and before Cameron & Co decided to keep it via the cunning and common EU strategy of giving it a new name – CIL – to pretend it was a different proposal, local government expenditure was indeed covered by a combination of Central Goverrnment Grant (from our income tax, VAT, and other taxes) and Council Tax of over £1,000 pa paid by most occupiers of any half-decent dwelling.
      Now that local authorities are going to grab vast sums of money from those requiring planning permission, can we expect our local authorities to reduce our Council Tax to offset the additional funds councils are “capturing” by charging for something they don’t own ?
      To paraphrase an immortal line of John Wayne … ” The HELL we can ! “

  8. As a fan of the benefits that the Portal has brought (audit trail of applications, electronic transfer of applications vs paper etc.) I was somewhat dismayed to be told by a local planning authority that henceforth they are only accepting applications that are totally complete at the moment they receive them. For the most part this is fine, but it can be a real problem with the planning fees.

    On the application process two options are offered, pay by cheque and pay online. Paying by cheque is not suitable if everyting has to be done in one hit. Paying online brings other matters to bear. Either I have to pay the fee and recoup it from my client (and fees can be large and clients slow at paying), or I have to hold a ‘clients money account’ which I, and I’m sure many others are reluctant to do, as it has to be managed within strict rules and may not be much needed, or the client has to sit beside me and put in their details as I make the application. I’m not gong to ask my client to gve me all of their card account details over the phone for reasons of security that I hope are obvious and would require application of other strict security protocols if I did.

    What I would like to be able to do is tick a box at the payment stage which says: ‘online payment by client/others’ or similar. The application is submitted as now but not transfered. The client (or other payer of fees) then logs on and accesses a payment page where he enters the planning reference number and a password that I have entered on the payment page and advise him of, and pays the fee. At that point the application is transferred to the LPA.

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Hi Nick,
      We are at the moment already assessing functionality to achieve what you suggest.
      I wasn’t aware of any LPAs taking the stand you mention though.
      If you would care to email me at chris.kendall@planningportal.gsi.gov.uk with their details I will investigate.

      I would be grateful to hear from readers who may have had a similar experience.

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