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Smarter Planning updated – you spoke, we listened

by on October 30, 2012

Thanks to all of you who commented on my recent Smarter Planning post suggesting how we might improve the scheme.

I’ve discussed your comments with the team and we have adjusted the terms to reflect your concerns.

In particular, we’ve taken out the mandatory commitment to pay online and  introduced additional clarification and flexibility on some of the other terms, including attachment naming.

We’ve republished the professional toolkit on the Portal on this page.

Our account management team are now busy processing the 150 or so other requests we’ve had from planning and building professionals about signing up.

Smarter Planning for local planning authorities

Smarter Planning isn’t just about planning agents. The scheme also extends to local planning authorities.

Smarter Planning is about the Portal working with both agents and LPAs to try and deliver a more effective end-to-end applications process online.

LPAs can also join the scheme by demonstrating best practice in processing online planning applications. So far over 70 LPAs have registered and interest in the scheme and are talking to our account managers about accreditation.

More information for LPAs is available from the Smarter Planning page on the Portal.

  1. Michael Hayes permalink

    There are only two substantive items in the Smarter Planning criteria checklist and they both relate to issues which Agents have repeatedly told you are a major bugbear for them. Namely LPA local requirements (i.e. validation by any other name) and online payment.

    I accept that you have downgraded online payment of fees (which are absolutely not the Agent’s responsibility) from a requirement to an aspiration. But the impression is that you are still listening more to the LPAs that are pushing for this than to the Agents that it inconveniences. I don’t believe any LPA planning officer processing an application would be prepared to pay the Applicant’s fee out of their own pocket and then claim it back from the Applicant later.

    So what is really in this for Agents? In return for being bound to comply with increasingly unreasonable LPA validation procedures and having to suffer the accounting hassle of paying LPA fees up front on behalf of applicants, all that Agents are being offered is the equivalent of a “Planning Portal users do it online” sticker.

    • Hi Michael,
      as you may be aware we have no authority over LPA information requirements.
      We do try and promote proportionality but that’s as far as we can go.

      Regarding online payments, I do understand the issue and if funds allow we aim to develop a technical solution that will enable the applicant to submit payment alongside an application, without an agent needing to grant them access to your company account.

      We are absolutely committed to helping LPAs and Agents equally and if occasionally it seems one sided I apologise.

  2. Keith baker permalink

    If adding “wherever possible” and the 1,2, and 3 footnotes is the extent of what was heard previously I can only conclude there is a bit of a similarity between the Director, and Nelson before Trafalgar.

    I for one will NOT be signing up.

  3. To clarify,
    I have removed the mandatory requirement to submit all applications online.
    I have also removed the mandatory requirement to pay online and the requirement to set out the anticipated number of applications.
    In short I have replaced mandatory requirements with best efforts wherever I can.
    I have also set out in answer to a previous comment our intention (funds allowing) to develop a solution to help agents with the payment issue.

    • Keith Baker permalink

      This is looking more and more like a way/means to marginalise and exclude those independant thinkers/doers who do not toe the line. I note that RIBA have accredited the Planning Portal with being the arbiters of “best practice”

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  1. RIBA Partnering With The Portal To Promote Smarter Planning « Planning Portal Director

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