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A brand new form and a few more 1APP improvements

by on March 4, 2013

As I mentioned at the end of last year, we’ve now managed to find the funds to make further changes to the site and 1APP service, carrying on the programme of improvement.

One of the key changes will be the  e-enablement of the Non Material Amendments form. (The form is currently available from the Portal but only as a PDF.) I’m sure this will come as good news to many!

We’re also making a couple of other changes to the service.

The first is to comply with new policy from DCLG on streamlining information requirements for planning applications.

Specifically we’re making improvements to merge the certificates section of the forms that will ensure the Agricultural Land Declaration certificate is always completed. It might seem a minor change but our service desk gets dozens of calls a month about this and it’s one of the main reasons local authorities invalidate paper applications as it’s often not completed.

Secondly, we’re making some changes to the tool that helps applicants choose forms, we call it the “Form Chooser”, and also to the way applications are started.

Currently, when a customer starts an application the first task is to log in  or register. For new users this can be a barrier to getting started. Instead we’re moving registration and/or log in to later in the process to let users start an application and identify the location.

We’re also going to be combining actions that are split across multiple screens into more logical groupings.

All this is taking place over the next month or so. As soon as I have precise dates I’ll update you. There shouldn’t be any significant impact on users but we will be contacting users with applications in draft with some advice.

As usual, we’ll make sure that outages to the live service take place out of normal office hours and give you plenty of notice.

35 Comments
  1. Architect Ian Treleaven Fitzherbert BArch(Hons) PPSPEng. permalink

    Please provide one box for completion when no external alterations are required – having to fill in “existing” and “proposed” materials when all are to remain is boring!

    • I think you will find many who agree with you here!

    • Just complete the first set of criteria for walls with N/A or see elevations in both existing and proposed and save. You will find you do not need to complete any more than that to get the page to show complete. Most LPA’s can decipher that in the same way you might have ignored that question on the old fashioned paper forms.

  2. Simon Evans permalink

    Small matters perhaps but evidence of the serious ongoing efforts to keep improving things and therefore very welcome.

    Re the logging on, I wonder whether it is necessary at all? It seems to have become commonplace to expect visitors to websites to log in, even for commercial sites trying to sell you things, which seems crazy. As anyone can make a planning application on any piece of land, the only purpose I can see to having to log in is that it can save you time with applicant details. Could there be an option to log in (with benefits being made apparent) or not, as the user chooses?

    • Hi Simon, logging-in is essential as we need to be able to associate an applicant with a user. Also, not all applications are completed in one sitting so we need to give you a way of getting back to the application at a later date.

      Part of the purpose of the change is to simplify this process.

  3. Can we please do something to make it clearer when Conservation Area consent is needed. Most of the CA applications we receive through the portal are not required and time is wasted having to deal with these.

    • Hi Alison,
      I will investigate and report back.

    • Alison, Matthew and Roger

      Our content team has advised me that we have made the change to the 1APP screens to make this clearer. They are currently testing these changes in our ‘Release’ environment and hope to have the new labels live soon.

      • I think most of the Account managers remind agents when they come into contact with them that CA consent is only required under certain circumstances such as demolition in a CA and not just because the site is in a CA.

  4. Firstly thanks for demystifying central government and putting a face and contact to your department – well appreciated. I agree with Alison Howarth about CA Consents – I was on the project team for 1APP as a LA representative and we asked for this to be dealt with then and many times since – nothing ever happened. We can give you figures of the number of CA forms that create records and have to be voided (should you need any more stats!) – such an immense waste of time for a bough like ours which is nearly all a Conservation Area.

    Also I wondered if you have considered a formal channel/suggestion box for improvements/enhancements/initiatives rather than spreading them all over against a myriad of comments. We could then see and support or object (constructively) as LA’s.

    Regards

    • Hi Roger, thanks for the feedback.
      We receive so many unstructured comments, ideas and suggestions (some unprintable) from so many sources that a single tool wouldn’t work for us.
      Periodically we collate all the feedback, do an internal assessment, feasibility, cost etc and then usually publish a list for feedback before we commit to development.

  5. Matthew Carney permalink

    I’d add further weight to the CA Consents issue, in reviewing our withdrawn incomplete applications for the PAS Benchmarking Exercise, unnecessary Conservation Area Consents make up a high proportion and waste administrative time. If something could be done to reduce this it would definitely help us!

  6. Claire Woods permalink

    Is there plans to update 1 App to allow for external measurements to be stated so that we can check that fee calculation is correct. Currently the form asks for internal measurements, but fee calculations refer to external measurements.

    • Hi Claire

      When you download the application, there should be a PDF called FeeCalculation.pdf. This contains the internal and external calculations.

      The internal measurements are captured on the form, the external measurements are captured in the Fee Calculator.

      Chris

      • Claire Woods permalink

        How will that work for people who download the forms to fill in by hand?

  7. We are working on implementing CIL and the guidance states that it will be levied on the gross internal floorspace of the net additional liable development. Can the 1APP forms be changed so that this is included for all development types. At present details of floorspace are only provided for non residential developments. I understand that CIL will apply for any developments where floorspace exceeds 100sqm, which could include individual houses.

    • Scott Alford, Head of LPA Engagement, Planning Portal permalink

      Alison,

      You are correct in that the current 1APP application forms collect information on non-residential developments to help determine CIL liability. To cater for residential developments the CIL additional questions form requests information about new residential floor space (including new dwellings, extensions, conversions, garages or any other buildings ancillary to residential use).

      The CIL additional question forms can be accessed here (http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/1app/forms/cil_questions.pdf) and the associated guidance here (http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/1app/cil_guidance.pdf)

      The form and guidance has been amended following feedback from a local authority CIL early adopter group led by Wandsworth Council. A further revision is planned shortly to take account of additional feedback and we shall communicate the change in due course.

      Ideally it would be useful if we could make the CIL additional questions form more integrated with the online application service. However, not all local authorities have introduced CIL yet.
      It is something we would like to look at again in the future.

  8. Steve permalink

    Is there an earlier post explaining why GEA was not selected for 1APP in the first place. I searched in vain for an explanation at the time, and it still puzzles me. Keep up the good work; simple things like the certificates will make a lot of difference for all LPAs and some one-off or irregular users.

  9. Jamie Whitehouse permalink

    I see hundreds of applications registered with the section on floorspace totals and use not completed. I also see the materials section filled in frequently with ‘brick’ and ’tile’ and ‘UPVC’ – this is not useful information. Could I suggest that the form includes annotations that explain that applications will not be registered if kry sections are missed.

  10. Angela Cornell permalink

    Can you advise when the NMA forms will be working online? thanks.

    • Angela, it’s in development at the moment. As soon as I have some a date from my technical team I’ll post it on the blog.

  11. Neil permalink

    More improvements, good to see things are not standing still. Long may the good work continue.

  12. It would be great if the online application forms followed the same order as the printed application forms, thereby making it much easier to check one against the other.

  13. Andrew Werrell permalink

    Why not provide 1APP forms in Word format it would save the average applicant huge amounts of time.
    The assumption that we live in paperless society is just wrong!

  14. Robert E permalink

    I am submitting very many planning applications for minor developments and the form filling is very illogical. For example one can apply for permission for a dwelling and get asked about opening hours… or we apply for planning permission for wind energy projects and we are asked questions which routinely misunderstand earlier answers. When there are 10 applications submitted in a day the extra and unnecessary work adds up significantly. I am thinking that the form creators don’t test the form filling experience. There should be a facility to replicate a previous form because, for the majority of my proposals, its the location of the development which is the only difference between many applications.

    • I would create a draft application with all the common data completed. Instead of submitting it create a copy from the list of draft applications and then complete the missing data and submit. The draft will remain in your draft list to copy again and again.

      • Robert E permalink

        Thanks for this, I’m new in this role and staff here had been filling in entire forms repeatedly for each location. I was sure that there would be a more efficient way. I had been told over the phone that I couldn’t create a generic form for my particular development. In my forms, the applicant changes every time and the agent and all of the remaining 24 screens stay the same.The copy function didnt seem to apply because it seemed to keep the applicant details the same (when this needed to change). So I have now created 3 portal log ins with me as a separate administrator having overview. Using the copy function I created a draft form leaving the applicant details blank then I have ticked the boxes to keep the applicant details and agent details the same in the next screen. Success, now I am administering the submission of multiple planning applications from 3 locations and only filling in 10% of the form.

        Looking at the printed form it would be good to see the successive screens numbered too… to facilitate cross referencing of printed answers to virtual questions.

      • Robert,

        I am glad that this helped. You should be able to get advice like this from the Planning Portal website – look towards the bottom of any screen and teh list under planning has ‘working with professionals’

  15. Can we simplify the form for change of use applications so that matters such as details of materials, hours of use and drainage and not necessary to complete: it just takes more time to keep saying N/A to these questions

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