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Amendment change on the new Planning Portal website

by on July 21, 2015

The single biggest issue reported to us by LPAs when processing online applications is receiving amended (or resubmitted) applications via the Planning Portal.

With the impending launch of our new website this autumn, we are working with our supplier to improve this function.

Local authorities have told us that ideally they would like to receive only the new or amended documents as part of a new process.

However, we are constrained by what can be delivered as we cannot change the 1APP connectors or the XML schema (our common data standard) for communicating applications to LPA back-office systems without a schema version update.

This is because one of the key requirements for the phase 1 launch of our new website is to minimise any impact on LPAs and their ICT Suppliers, we have therefore taken the decision to not introduce any schema changes for the initial go live.

So, with this in mind we will be introducing the following additional functions to the amendment process to let LPAs better understand the changes made from the original submission.

 

1. Capturing what’s changed

 On the current system the applicant is asked to choose one of the following options:

Changes to the supporting documentation ONLY
– this is free and you may do this more than once

Changes to the forms and documentation
– according to the changes made charges may apply

We will be retaining this question on the new system. However, we will also ask the applicant to provide details of the amendment changes made. This will be a mandatory question.

Capturing this from the applicant will support the existing ‘attachment summary‘ that details any changes to attachments.

The system will also create a new amendment supporting document (a new Planning Portal auto-generated document) that will capture the details provided by the applicant of the changes made, the amendment option they selected and information on when the original application was submitted and transferred to the LPA.

 

2. Changes to application email notifications

In addition to this we will introduce new email notifications to LPAs for amendment applications rather than send a generic application notification as per the current service.

The amendment email notification will have different email subject text to highlight it’s an amendment and will include details of when the original application was submitted and downloaded by the recipient LPA i.e. times and dates, along with the particular amendment type selected by the applicant.

Receiving additional information at both of these key stages should ensure that LPAs receive clear information and notification that it’s an amended application.

This will inform the LPA’s planning registration team that a previous application has been received and prompt them to cross-reference it with the original to understand the changes made and what the applicant is proposing to change.

This should help avoid amended applications being treated as new applications and registered separately, which currently causes LPAs a myriad of processing issues.

 

3.  Amendments to applications with ‘submitted’ status

We’re also fixing the issue where the original application has a status of ‘submitted’ – in other words it has been sent to the LPA but hasn’t been downloaded.

To address the instances where the original application has a status of ‘submitted’ (i.e. it’s been sent to the LPA but it hasn’t been downloaded to the back-office system and the applicant subsequently amends the application, these are currently removed from the LPA’s queue of applications awaiting retrieval.

This causes great confusion as the LPA receives the initial email notification of the submission but the application cannot be found or accessed by their 1APP connector.

In these instances the LPA has no idea about what has happened to the application, generating Service Desk calls.

To improve this process on the new website (i.e. the applicant amends an application with a status of ‘submitted’), the service will send an email notification to the LPA advising them that the application has been withdrawn pending further amendment.

This will avoid confusion of why it’s not been retrieved correctly into the back-office system and inform the LPA’s planning registration team to take no further action.

 

4.  Improving the content that sits around this function

We shall review the content that sits around the process and improve this by highlighting instances of when applicants should use the amendment process and or alternatively email supporting information to the LPA if the application has been registered.

We hope you’ll agree these are much-needed change and with the planned changes will help LPAs to quickly and easily identify amended applications.

More will follow shortly on other improvements we’re developing for the new website.

2 Comments
  1. This will be great as most LPA’s actively ask agents to send amendments via email instead of via the Portal. Having all amendments in one place will helps track changes accurately.

  2. Simon Evans permalink

    You learn something new every day! I didn’t even know this mechanism for altered documents existed. To date, when something has had to be changed, all the communication goes via direct email. I am not actually sure what is wrong with that.

    What would be useful (to change tack slightly) is for determination notices to be uploaded to the Portal to accompany the submitted documents and then for any subsequent related applications (like discharge of conditions) to be referenced to it. You could then just display the permission and select the conditions, say, that you wanted to address. Just an idea!

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