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A new tool for paying your application fee

by on June 19, 2014

In past months I’ve published a number of articles on how to pay for your planning application fee when submitting online.

With LPAs focussed on the channel shift of their planning services, many are reviewing processes to see how they can reduce validation errors. The most common invalidation reason for online applications is when payment is sent by cheque, even though it could be in the post and on its way.

In light of this many LPAs are encouraging payment at the time of submission, either online, by telephone or via the council website. This should help to create a win-win for LPAs and agents with a quicker and more efficient process for registration and validation.

This got us thinking about our online application service and how applicants can only find out the payment options local planning authorities (LPAs) support when you get you get to the final step of the submission process to ‘check, pay & submit’. So we’ve developed a simple tool that lets you search by LPA for the payment options they support so you can plan how and who is going to pay prior to submission.

We’ll publish this on the Portal shortly – we’re reviewing where to place this as part of the application process for quick reference.

In the meantime I thought I’d give you a sneak peek. You’ll need Excel installed on your PC for this to work. Please let us know what you think by adding a comment below.

Download the LPA payment tool (you’ll need to select the ‘Read Only’ option.)

Finally, a request to LPAs: please check the payment options you support.

It would be great if you could spend a couple of minutes checking the tool and that your payment options are correct, including the cheque payment address. With lots of office moves recently we don’t want cheques going astray.

Read instructions on how to update your details.

 

24 Comments
  1. Simon Evans permalink

    Fee payment is certainly a problem. Agents do not necessarily hold client fees or want to rely on reimbursement, in which case they have to get clients to pay separately using the PP reference number. Putting the number on the back of a cheque usually works but can mean a delay between receipt of application and receipt of associated fee. In one recent case, that led to a cheque being lost. I now recommend that clients pay by card using the reference number, but that isn’t fault free either. I don’t know if there is a technological fix for this. Perhaps the system could generate a Notice to Pay where payments are not made at time of submission. That notice could then be sent to the client who could use it to make the payment and ensure everything joined up.

  2. GRPA permalink

    That ‘notice to pay’ is a superb idea! Over to you Chris!

  3. GRPA permalink

    As feedback, the tool works very well in itself. But on my screen, some of the info dropped ‘below the fold’ with no scroll bars available. I had to go to Full Screen mode (in View menu) to see it all (Clear Full Screen option is available on the right click once you’re there – didn’t know that!).

    • sarahchilcott permalink

      Thanks for the feedback. We’re making the change as I type.

      • GRPA permalink

        Great to see you so pro-active Sarah!!!

  4. Ian T Donaldson permalink

    My accountant has cautioned me not to pay statutory fees on behalf of clients. Most LPA’s now accept credit card payment quoting the PP number but a few do not accept credit cards at all, Some will not accept a credit card until the application is registered and some even require payment to be made at their offices! It seems to me that the problem would be solved if all LPA’s accepted payment by credit card with a time limit say two or three days of making the application. The registration procedure usually takes a few days anyway.

  5. Steve Edgeller, Edgeplan Ltd permalink

    Great idea.
    We DO pay application fees on behalf of clients because we’re not too close to any accounting/turnover threshold, and it’s a very welcome part of the service for clients with troublesome Accounts Depts.
    Nevertheless, we’ve been caught out a couple of times trying to get an application valid by a deadline, only to find that we’ve got to add another three (or more) days for the LPA to receive a cheque in the post (as well as dealing with lost cheques).
    I accept that some LPAs aren’t ready to deal with online transactions (they seem to cope OK with Council Tax and parking fines though).but this should halp reduce some of the angst.
    Thanks.

  6. Andy Goddard permalink

    The problem seems to remain of how clients can pay LPA fees for an application prior to an application being registered……… if not by cheque payable to the LPA.

    I need to present clients with paper copies of applications before I can “demand” immediate design fee payment for the service, and I do not want their LPA fees going through my account, thus adding to my gross income, thus increasing my risk of enforced VAT threshold, thus making me less competitive.

    I shall continue to use paper applications until I have a failsafe way to solve this problem.

    Ideas? AG

    DESIGN SOLUTIONS DESIGN APPROVALS DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION

    Andrew Goddard. Design For Build 20 Pilot Road, Hastings TN34 2AP Tel; 01424 539 508 Mob; 07855 246 005 Email; ag@designforbuild.net http://www.designforbuild.net

    • Steve Edgeller, Edgeplan Ltd permalink

      Can’t you fill-in the application online, then print a copy of the draft form for their approval alongside your drawings etc.?
      Once they’ve sent the cheque, you can just click to ‘submit’ the application material.

  7. B Brooks MRICS MBEng permalink

    As stated above, the application fee is “client money”, so unless you have a separate client account, advise clients of the interest you have a earned etc. etc. it is far easier & safer to have a separate cheque from the client to the LPA. Other options are not practical unless the client is sitting with you whilst uploading their application, with their relevant payment details.

    Why do LPA’s loose cheques? It’s criminal.

  8. This is a great idea. As most of our agents get the clients to pay the fees and some of those clients would rather pay at the local office, I would like to see the details of our One Stop Shops on this page as well, or at least a link to the B&NES webpage that has our OSS details on it. We would rather someone paid F2F without delay rather than posted a cheque. Perhaps there could be an ‘In Person’ option?

    • sarahchilcott permalink

      Hi Sarah. Yes, we can add a link to your webpage with OSS details. Can you email it to me please or reply to this comment. Thanks.

      PS The offer is also open to any other LPAs with similar options. Just let me or Support know.

  9. It would speed up the search if there were a ‘search box option’ for the LA, where one could type in the start to find it, such as WAV for Waverley…..and so on

    • sarahchilcott permalink

      Hi David
      We’re looking into how/if we can do this in Excel. If anyone knows, do let us know!
      Thanks.

  10. I sometimes get a letter from the LPA after they have received an on line submission saying that the Fee has not been paid, even when I know that the applicant has posted a cheque to them. Perhaps I am being cynical, but is this a way of delaying registration, thus extending their 8 week deadline because they are overloaded? LPA’s do seem to lose cheques, even when they are included in with paper submissions. Payment of fees is one of the biggest headaches I have to deal with and like others here I will not handle payment for clients unless they have transferred the money first to my account. I prefer not to do this in any case because of the risk of reaching the VAT threshold. Perhaps there could be a change of rules here and such payments excluded from income?

  11. Ian Brewerton permalink

    The tool doesn’t seem to work correctly in Office Libre, one of the open source alternatives to Microsoft Office. Could you consider making it available in open source format as we don’t all wish to contribute to Bill Gate’s pension pot !

    • sarahchilcott permalink

      Good point Ian, thanks. We’ll look into it.

  12. Richard William Hindmoor permalink

    You need to check the address for Durham County Council
    If you send cheques to the address on the portal then the fee will go to Manchester
    This has causes me untold problems of late will client’s fees going missing
    I have asked D.C.C. to investigate this but no one is listening
    Can you help?

    • sarahchilcott permalink

      Hi Richard
      Thanks for letting us know. The Support desk will investigate and try to sort it out. We’ll post an update here as soon as we get one.

  13. Becky permalink

    I can’t seem to get this tool to work? When I choose any authority by clicking on them using the drop down list, it doesn’t change from Adur DC. Not sure if its because I’m in ‘protected view’? Anyone else having similar problems?

  14. Matt Judge permalink

    My accountant advises that planning application fees can be deducted from your calculation of gross income for VAT purposes because your client is getting the benefit of the fee incurred.

    One question: Why do payments have to be paid individually to each LA, through their myriad and sometimes inefficient payment systems? It seems that we’re sticking with a bit of unnecessary legacy here.

    Why not direct all payments through the planning portal as a vehicle for collecting revenue. This could then offer all of the options noted above at one source (a much more efficient, flexible and reliable service for clients and agents) and would save the LAs from having to run their own separate accounting systems and save the time (money) that is otherwise spent fixing mistakes and generally being distracted from the job at hand. The portal could then direct the pooled funds to the LA at the end of the month in a single payment allowing the LA more time to get on with looking at applications.

    The drawings go through the portal, why not the money? …or have I missed something here?

    • GRPA permalink

      It would still require the Planning Portal to have a customer facing (rather than agent facing) payment portal, as per numerous comments above. But beyond building a webpage (perhaps via a hidden link) and agreeing who pays the transaction fees then I think this could not present great problems.

Please give us your feedback but we won’t publish any comments that are not constructive or that criticise any individual, any named business or any local authority. Please note, all comments will be moderated before being published.

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